Skip to main content

Full text of "JC Smuts"

See other formats


JAN 
CHRISTIAN 



SMUTS 



J.C. 

SMUTS 




General JC Smuts. Cape Town , 1949 



Dustcover Preview 

This biography of one of the greatest 
and most respected men of our time 
has a very special intimacy and 
authenticity. No other man could have 
brought to it such a full knowledge 
and understanding, for this is a record 
of Smuts 's life by his own son. The 
official biography, freely documented 
and substantiated in the smallest 
detail, is in course of preparation by a 
group of scholars accredited by 
Smuts's own family and the South 
African Government, but that work 
cannot be ready for some years. Mean- 
while, this life of the greatest man 
South Africa has produced is of 
special interest, both for the portrait it 
paints and for the inside history of 
South Africa which it relates. For the 
story of Smuts is the story of South 
Africa and his whole fife was spent in 



a constant struggle against the political 
creed which is the root cause of the 
troubles in the Union today. 

Smuts began life on a South African 
farm, completed his education in 
England where he read law at Cam- 
bridge, was called to the Bar and 
returned to South Africa to practise as 
a lawyer. His friendship with President 
Kruger led him into politics, and a 
passionate love of his own country 
into the Boer War. His training in 
England, however, and his under- 
standing of the British point of view 
gave him his great opportunity for 
statesmanship when he and his great 
friend Botha together brought their 
country back into prosperity by way of 
Union at home and peace and friend- 
ship with Britain. With the death of 
Botha the leadership of South Africa 
fell wholly on the shoulders of Smuts. 



In the First World War his drive and 
foresight kept South Africa free of the 
Germans and in the darkest days of 
1917 he was appointed a member of 
the British War Cabinet. At the Peace 
Conference at Versailles he fought 
hard for a just treaty which would 
bring lasting peace and it was he who 
was responsible for much of the 
Covenant of the League of Nations. 
Until the moment of his death on 
September 11th, 1950, he brought all 
his great powers to the fight to keep 
South Africa on an undeviating course 
based firmly on prosperity for his own 
country through constant and whole- 
hearted co-operation with Great 
Britain and the Commonwealth of 
Nations. 



Jan Christian SMUTS 

ByJ.C. Smuts 

with 23 pages of halftone illustrations and 3 maps 




South Africa 



Contents 

Introduction 

Part I: The Boer Leader 

1 The Old Cape 

2 Riebeeck West 

3 The Republics 

4 Boyhood 

5 Stellenbosch 

6 Cambridge 

7 Cape Town 

8 Cecil John Rhodes 

9 Kruger and the Jameson Raid 

10 State Attorney 

11 Uitlanders 

12 Dark Clouds 

13 Boer War 

14 Pretoria Falls 

15 Expedition into the Cape 

16 Rain and Mountains 

17 Vereeniging 

18 The Hardened Warrior 

19 Reconstruction 



20 Responsible Government 

21 Gandhi 

22 National Convention 

23 Union 

24 The South African Party 

25 Hertzogism 

26 Labour Unrest 

27 Rebellion 



Part 2: The First World War 

28 First World War 

29 South-West African Campaign 

30 East African Campaign 

31 Sidelights on the Campaign 

32 War in Europe 

33 The Commonwealth 

34 African Problems 

35 The Western Front 

36 Work on Committees 

37 Ideas on Peace 

38 A Practical Suggestion 

39 Peace Conference 



40 


Controversy 


59 


Distant Rumblings 


41 


Signing of the Peace 


60 


Freedom 






61 


International Affairs 


Part 3 : Uneasy Peace 


62 


Uneasy Peace 


42 
43 

44 
45 


Suffer Fools Gladly 
Returns Home 
Political Troubles 
The Great Strike 


63 
64 
65 
66 


Dark Clouds 
The Storm Breaks 
Building an Army 
In Parliament 


46 

47 


Groote Schuur 
Eclipse 


Part 4: Second World War 


48 


Doornkloof 


67 


War 


49 


Home 


68 


Walking and Exercise 


50 


Library 


69 


Abyssinian Campaign 


51 


Holism and Evolution 


70 


Fortunes of War 


52 


Hertzog Government 


71 


Offensive Phase 


53 


The Rhodes Lectures at Oxford 


72 


El Alamein 


54 


Native Problem 


73 


Second Wartime Visit to 


55 


Scientific World Picture of 




England 




Today 


74 


Work in London 


56 


The Gold Standard 


75 


Explosive Speech 


57 


The Scientist 


76 


Third Wartime Visit to England 


58 


Fusion 


77 


Overlord 



78 Fourth Visit to England 

79 Prime Ministers' Conference 

80 San Francisco Conference 

81 The United Nations 

82 Crest of the Wave 

83 London and Paris 

84 Royal Visit 

85 Elections and Rejection 

86 Transformation 

87 The End 
Biographical Summary 
Bibliography 

Index 



List Of Illustrations 

General J. C. Smuts - Cape Town, 
1949. V. K. de Vries, Cape Town 

The House at Boplaas, Riebeeck West, 
where General Smuts was born in 
1870. Cape Times 

Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Smuts, parents of 
General Smuts - 1893 

Sybella Margaretha Krige, 1888, later 
to become Mrs. J. C. Smuts 

General Smuts with his Boer War 
horse "Charlie" - 1901 

General Smuts with his senior Boer 
War officers, van Deventer and 
Maritz, O'okiep, Cape -May 1902 

J.C. Smuts as Student at Stellenbosch 
-1891 

J.C. Smuts at Cambridge - November 
1892 



J. C. Smuts aged 33 

J.C. Smuts with Mrs. Smuts and 
daughter Santa - 1903. Duffus Bros., 
Cape Town 

J.C. Smuts at the wheel of his first car 
-1911 

J.C. Smuts with the Writer - August 
1914. Adolf Sieger, Pretoria 



Smuts and Botha - 1918 

Lieut. -Gen. J.C. Smuts 
J.Russell and Sons, London 



1917. 



Groote Schuur, official residence of 
Union Prime Ministers, Cape Town. 
Louis Weyers 

General Smuts' s home at Doornkloof, 
near Pretoria 

He loved to play with children. 
Grandchildren Sibella, Richard and 
Petronella Clark. Bancroft Clark 



General Smuts in typical attitude 
listening to a Debate - 1941 

His beard never failed to intrigue his 
grandchildren. With Sibella Clark - 
1944 

General Smuts - 1930. Navanna 
Vandyk, London 

General Smuts broadcasting a New 
Year Message to the Empire from his 
home - 1939 

Mountaineer Smuts on Table Moun- 
tain, overlooking Cape Town - 1940. 
Cape Times 

Pausing to talk to friends on the way 
up Table Mountain - 1938. With 
acknowledgement - W.C. Davies 

General Smuts with the Writer at 
Wajir, North Frontier District, Kenya 
- November 1940 



General Smuts addressing troops at 
Mersa Matruh, Egypt - August 1941 

Looking from the window of his 
Lodestar at Kilimanjaro - 1940 

Field Marshal Smuts. A fine 
photographic study - October 1942. 
Fayer, London 

General Smuts writing at his desk - 
1943 

General Smuts with Mr. Churchill, 
Cairo - 1942 

General Smuts. An informal snap 
taken on his farm Doornkloof, near 
Pretoria - 1943 

General Smuts addressing a joint 
sitting of British Houses of Parliament 
in 1942. On his left are Mr. Lloyd 
George and Mr. Churchill. Fox 
Photos, London 



Mrs. J. C. Smuts - 1941. John General Smuts with granddaughter 

Dodgson, Pretoria Mary Smuts at Irene the day before his 

t., ... r t /-u • *• death. This was the last photograph 

Three generations or Jan Christian . v & v 

c 4. r» -i inAA taken or him. 

Smuts - Rooikop 1944 

General Smuts looking out over San 
Francisco Bay - 1945. United Nations 
Photo 

General Smuts addressing the Plenary 
Session of the United Nations at the 
San Francisco Conference - 1945. 
United Nations Photo 

General Smuts with King George VI 
on Table Mountain - 1947 Cape 
Times 

General Smuts with the Royal Family 
at Mout-aux-Sources, Natal - 1947. 
Natal Mercury 

General Smuts on his 80th Birthday at 
Irene. He was looking thin and far 
from well. 



Maps And Facsimiles 

South Africa 

Facsimile of letter of 1886 

Orange Free State and Natal 

The Boer War 

Ladysmith 

Smuts's Route to the Cape 

Portion of notes for the "Explosive 
Speech", 1943 



Introduction 

In 1870 a blue-eyed boy was born on a 
farm in the Cape. Eighty years later, 
grown to maturity but undimmed by 
the years, and at heart still a simple 
child of the veld, he died on a farm in 
the Transvaal. Between those eighty 
years and those thousand miles lies a 
romance of achievement. This simple 
farm lad was to bring much lustre and 
fame to the land of his birth. He was, 
in his time, to become a prophet and 
interpreter of mankind, a figure loved 
and revered by peoples far beyond his 
native land, for he brought to them the 
breadth of the veld, and the 
expectation of better things. 

Born in the shadow of Riebeeck 
Kasteel, that mountain buttress rising 
conspicuously from the plains of 
Riebeeck West, this boy was himself 
in years to come to tower like a great 



mountain above the level plains of 
humanity. But he never forgot the 
modest farmhouse where he was born. 
Throughout his life, though honoured 
by almost every country of the world, 
he kept with him that gift of simpli- 
city; it never forsook him and he 
ended his days in a house as simple as 
that of his spartan forebears. His 
memory of the mountain, too, marched 
with him throughout life and imbued 
him with those sublime and lofty 
ideals which he preached so consist- 
ently. 

When he was twenty his doctor at 
Cambridge despaired of this youth 
ever growing old: he was right. At 
eighty that youth still had not grown 
old, for the passage of years had 
touched him lightiy. 

Greatness never turned his head nor 
did defeat embitter him. Success was 



merely an incentive to greater effort 
and more unselfish service. 

This man from Malmesbury was to 
reintroduce the code of simplicity and 
higher spiritual and ethical values into 
the council chambers of the world and 
to teach men anew the meaning of 
fairness and magnanimity. This man 
preached the benign concept of British 
Imperialism which helped to form a 
new relationship between the English- 
speaking elements of the far-flung 
Empire and led directly to that 
brotherhood which came to be known 
as the Commonwealth. He was the 
father or the idea of Commonwealth 
and also her most illustrious 
spokesman. It was perhaps the holistic 
concept of an integrated whole being 
larger than the sum of its constituent 
parts that gave him this idea. No less 
was it this holistic vision that brought 



about the integration we now know as 
the Union of South Africa. 

Throughout life he carried with him a 
clear conception of relative values. 
From his assessment of these values 
he never turned, even though often 
criticised and misunderstood. The 
ultimate greatness of this man lay in 
the fact that he saw clearly what was 
right and strove fearlessly and 
unflinchingly for the attainment of this 
view. Once he had made up his mind, 
nothing deterred him, nor was he 
disillusioned or embittered by obstruc- 
tion or criticism. 

Into the eighty years was crowded 
great service and achievement, for he 
was a man of many parts. He was a 
warrior of three great wars and in all 
these he attained high distinction, 
becoming the greatest soldier and 
strategist South Africa has produced. 



As a statesman he attained a unique 
position in his fatherland and indeed 
beyond in the great world about him. 
Britain honoured him with the Order 
of Merit, the highest civilian award to 
which South African or Briton can 
aspire. He came to be known not only 
as the ambassador of South Africa, but 
as the Henchman of the Empire and 
the Founder of the International Peace 
Organisations. 

As a scientist and philosopher he 
gained supreme honours in many 
fields. In his treatise on Holism, he 
suggested a link between the physical 
and metaphysical and expounded his 
thesis with a preciseness of reasoning 
and pureness of prose. His chairman- 
ship at the centenary celebrations of 
the British Association for the 
Advancement of Science, in 1931 was, 
he always considered, the Supreme 



honour of his life; for it carried with it 
the greatest crown that science could 
offer. 

As a politician I think he was the 
greatest his country has produced, 
though he never attained this through 
an eloquence of oratory. He was a 
great politician, as he had been a great 
general, both in victory and in defeat. 
Parliament was indeed graced by the 
presence of this patient silver-haired 
sage. 

I was privileged to live with this man 
as a son and friend for many years. I 
think I can claim to have known him 
better and more intimately than most 
men. I have studied him lovingly and 
carefully. I have seen him in many 
countries and in many moods, and I 
would like to put down here my 
knowledge of him. 



I write this account of my father's life 
with diffidence. I am no journalist, no 
historian, no scientist, no politician 
and no military expert. I tackle the task 
in a sense of duty, of love and admira- 
tion. Much of it is written in a mood of 
eulogy. It would have been too much 
to expect otherwise of a person who 
had lived for almost forty years with 
one of the world's great dreamers and 
idealists. For this human weakness I 
make no apologies. 

This is not the Official Life of my 
father. The time is not yet ripe for it. 
Many aspects still stand too close to 
history and living personalities. Much 
is still secret and confidential. Much, 
in the form of correspondence, still 
remains to be collected. Documents 
have to be sorted. So, from many 
points of view, a weighty Life is not 
possible for some years. 



I write this interim biography merely 
to give a son's point of view. Perhaps I 
suffer from the disadvantage of having 
known him too well to be able to 
unravel sentiment from fact, or to see 
my way out of the detail of the history 
with which I have grown up. 

In reviewing the past biographies and 
books written about my father, I have 
noticed some deficiencies and distor- 
tions. Sometimes the historic setting 
has been painted with too lavish a 
brush and the man has been given only 
a minor role. It is difficult to avoid, in 
view of my father's intimate, architec- 
tural connection with our past. 

Unfortunately during most of those 
years I had been too young to assess 
properly the moods and highlights of 
what I saw. Unfortunately, too, with 
the rest of the family, I failed to keep a 
diary. All our memories are therefore 



locked up merely in our heads. It is 
only during certain of his Second 
World War visits to England and 
America, on which I accompanied 
him, that I kept comprehensive notes. 

This is regrettable, for my father was a 
perfect raconteur of stories and 
anecdotes on events and people. They 
covered almost every topic imaginable 
from the outer spaces of our expanding 
Universe to the commonplace non- 
entities of our daily life. On all these 
topics he was knowledgeable and lucid 
with a wealth of vision that enthralled 
both old and young. 

These, alas, are now only vague 
memories, dimmed by the passing of 
the years. But in the sum total of the 
complete personality, these minute 
facets all play their part. For it is by 
the simplicity of little things almost as 



much as by his great achievements that 
my father will be remembered. 

If I succeed even in small measure in 
depicting the simplicity, integrity and 
consistency of that complex character 
we all knew as the "Oubaas", I shall 
be well satisfied. My father was no 
tight-lipped enigma or hard grey ingot 
of steel. He was a warm friendly 
human, with a strongly developed 
family instinct, living simply and 
frugally. I trust I shall be able to 
convey something of this in the pages 
that follow. He was no bespectacled 
bookworm, or tight-lipped idealist, or 
highbrow scientist, or dogmatic 
politician. He was a generous, kindly 
and chivalrous man. Greatness never 
made him too big for the old tin home 
at Irene or for the narrow confines of 
his fatherland. 



With this great figure I would couple 
the name of my modest little mother - 
"Ouma" to many. Her encouragement, 
understanding, courage and support 
were an immense help to my father in 
his career. She too is a great person- 
ality, and will rank as one of the most 
remarkable women produced by South 
Africa. It was indeed fortunate that 
these two people should have been 
privileged to work together. 

But one thing is certain as the glorious 
sun that rises above our limitless veld 
- the name of Jan Christian Smuts, his 
deeds, his aspirations, his words and 
ideals, will live on as long as men take 
pride in great achievements, and will 
grow in stature with the passing of the 
years. To those who follow him he has 
bequeathed a glorious legacy. It is for 
history to prove whether we are 
worthy of this great gift. 



PartI 
The Boer Leader 



1 : The Old Cape 

In the flat wheat-growing area of 
Malmesbury, in the south-western 
Cape, stands the sleepy little hamlet of 
Riebeeck West, dating back to the 
early years of European settlement in 
the eighteenth century. Quiet as is the 
setting of this rustic village, its bearing 
on South African history has been 
profound. For there, within the shadow 
of the massive rampart of rock known 
as the Kasteel (Castle), on two farms 
within a stone's throw of each other, 
were born, at almost the same time, 
two men who have had a marked 
effect on South African history. Close 
as has been their origin, no paths could 
later have diverged more sharply. One, 
Jan Christian Smuts, my father, was 



essentially of the Herculean mould of 
nation-builder and statesman., a man 
of broad-minded tolerance. The other, 
Daniel Francois Malan, onetime 
henchman of General Hertzog, was a 
man of narrow nationalism. Combine 
this contrast and there is revealed that 
strange though colourful part the Boer 
people have played in the history of 
South Africa. 

Yet essentially these two men are of 
similar extraction and environment. It 
is difficult to explain the gulf between 
them. It has its origin possibly in some 
distant and obscure genetic back- 
ground which goes into the compo- 
sition of the Boer race. Usually the 
products are a stable type like my 
father; but not infrequently, by some 
inexplicable Mendelian mutation, un- 
stable types are initiated with eruptive 
characteristics, who unfortunately 



always seem to have a gullible follow- 
ing. Our history abounds with these 
crusty types. No useful purpose will be 
served by endeavouring to explain the 
vagary of the Boer people on an 
historic basis. For history will show 
not only deeds of great daring and 
initiative, but also acts of a suicidal 
and futile nature. It will show that 
even under the dire stresses and ever- 
prevalent dangers from the native 
hordes during the Great Trek, there 
was quarrelling rather than co- 
operation, and serious differences of 
opinion on questions of leadership and 
direction. 

We must accept the instability in the 
Boer people as an inherent and 
indelible trait. And it is in the light of 
this that we must measure the extent of 
my father's work and the size of his 
achievements. At the same time it is 



also an indication of the dangers and 
difficulties that lie before us. 

The English-speaking element, which 
constitutes about forty per cent of the 
population, by contrast to the 
Afrikaans-speaking element, seems to 
be over-compensated with stable, 
passive attributes. One of the most 
fatal of these is apathy to all matters 
political, and general disregard of the 
active side of government. Nothing 
will induce them to attend meetings or 
show any enthusiasm, and wild horses 
can barely drag them to the polling 
booths. The political approach to the 
two sections therefore varies. 



In 1486 the Portuguese explorer 
Bartholomew Diaz was rudely 
buffeted past the Cape in a gale. This 
was the first rounding by European 



explorers since the days of Pharaoh 
Necho, seven centuries before Christ. 
Diaz christened this jutting headland 
the Cape of Storms. Eleven years later, 
another Portuguese navigator, da 
Gama, while on the way to the East, 
also passed within view of Table 
Mountain with its cloth of mist. It was 
calm with a brilliant sun shining. He 
rechristened it the Cape of Good 
Hope. This was a more happy augury 
for the birth of a new country, but the 
fate of storms predicted by Diaz has 
been ever close to us. 

Thereafter the Cape, with its heavy 
seas and forbidding coastline, was left 
in peace for a long while. The few 
travellers that ventured ashore, or were 
shipwrecked, were set upon and mur- 
dered by the indigenous savages. But 
trade between Europe and the East was 
steadily increasing and by the 



beginning of the seventeenth century 
the Dutch East India Company had 
grown into an important concern. In 
1652 Jan van Riebeeck was sent out 
with three ships to establish a revic- 
tualing station to provide for the needs 
of the company on its long and 
hazardous voyages. And so began the 
first serious attempt by the white man 
at settlement in the sub-continent. That 
foothold, precarious at first and lodged 
largely in a fort built on the foreshore, 
grew and expanded steadily, till by the 
time of van der Stel it had spread 
inland to Stellenbosch and Paarl and 
even beyond into the mountains. It 
was evident that the white man had 
come to stay. 

At about the same time as van 
Riebeeck' s Europeans were establish- 
ing their foothold in the Cape, the 
Bantu tribes were swarming into South 



Africa from the north. Between them 
were squeezed the ancient indigenous 
Bushman and Koranna stock, who 
because of their pilfering and 
predatory habits were looked upon as 
vermin and exterminated on contact by 
both invaders. Remnants escaped for 
sanctuary into the arid fastnesses of 
the Kalahari, where they survive in 
limited numbers to this day. The 
Bantu, or Natives, as they are more 
usually known, are Central African 
negro migrants with considerable 
admixtures of Hamitic blood. They 
moved southwards in a series of 
separate waves, and between them 
there was constant raiding and 
conflict. 

So far, the immigrants had been 
exclusively Dutch, but with the 
Revocation of the Edict of Nantes and 
the persecution of the Huguenots, 180 



of these stout French folk sought 
asylum at the Cape in 1688. They 
brought with them not only ideas on 
the Cultivation of the vine but a 
measure of culture and enlightenment. 
Soon their language had been 
swallowed up by the Dutch and their 
blood diluted by intermarriage. This 
blending of the Dutch and French 
stock resulted in that sturdy race which 
has come to be known as the Boers. 
The British first became represented in 
any numbers in the early years of the 
nineteenth century, when five 
thousand 1820 settlers made their 
homes in the eastern portion of the 
Cape Province near Port Elizabeth. For 
geographical reasons, if for no other, 
intermarriage between Boer and Briton 
never progressed as had been the case 
with the French Huguenots. This was a 

pity- 




The House at Boplaas, Riebeeck West, where General Smuts was born in 1870 



2 : Riebeeck West 

MY father was born on the 24th of 
May, 1870, in the humble white- 
washed homestead on the farm Onge- 
gund, three miles from Riebeeck West. 
He was the second eldest in a family 
of four sons and two daughters. The 
house was situated on the upper 
section of the farm, and as the lower 
portion was occupied by another 
branch of the Smuts' s this upper part 
came to be known as Bovenplaats 
(Upper farm). 

His christian names he inherited from 
his maternal grandfather Jan Christian 
de Vries. Like his grandfather, he spelt 
Christian with one "a". 

Around, on the undulating plains of 
Malmesbury, billowed the endless 
wheat-fields of the great Swartland. 
Behind the simple, gabled farmhouse, 



obscuring Table Mountain and the 
Cape peninsula, rose the three- 
thousand-foot Kasteel. By contrast to 
the flatness of its surroundings it 
formed a conspicuous feature. The 
homestead on Bovenplaats, or Boplaas 
as it was more popularly known, was 
not by any standards a pretentious 
place, for its thatched roof and narrow 
construction lent it an almost barn like 
appearance. The houses were already 
many generations old and had always 
been inhabited by Smuts 's. 

My father was fortunate to be born 
into the world in an era which offered 
perhaps more opportunity for an able 
young man than any previous one. In 
South Africa the Industrial Revolution 
was just starting and we were on the 
threshold of the far-reaching 
discoveries of diamonds and gold. His 




Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Smuts, parents of General 
Smuts - 1893 



life-span was to encompass not only 
the great age of steel and electricity, of 
the invention of the internal combus- 
tion engine and the aeroplane, but also 
the golden age of science and the 
opening phases of the epoch-making 
atomic age. Each was in itself a world 
apart - something new the human 
mind had not previously conceived. 
Has youth ever before had such an 
endless abundance of opportunity? He 
was perhaps fortunate, too, to find 
himself in South Africa in the forma- 
tive years of her history. 

The farmers of the Swartland did not 
have the wealth or inclination for the 
artistic Dutch architectural type of 
buildings of Constantia or Stellen- 
bosch. They were simpler here, living 
farther from the centres of civilisation, 
and wheat farming was a more exact- 
ing occupation than the cultivation of 



the vine of the fertile plains of the 
Cape proper. So in some ways, though 
near it geographically, the Swartland 
formed a world apart from the 
environs of the mother city. People 
were judged rather by the fervour with 
which they embraced the Calvinistic 
doctrines of the Dutch Reformed 
Church, and by the pious merits of 
their deeds. By any standards, the 
population of the Cape was conserva- 
tive, and the heavy atmosphere of the 
coast and the warmth of the sunshine 
lent a certain self-satisfaction to those 
who lived there. 

Jacobus Abraham Smuts, my paternal 
grandfather, was a man of some 
prominence in these parts, for he was 
member for Malmesbury in the old 
Cape Legislature or supreme parlia- 
ment of the province. Photographs 




Sybella Margaretha Krige, 1888, later to 
become Mrs. J. C. Smuts 



show him as a stocky round-faced 
man, broad of forehead and round of 
head, a typical Hollander in appear- 
ance. His appearance did not belie his 
extraction, for though the sixth 
generation of Smuts 's to be born in the 
Cape, he was of almost pure Dutch 
extraction. 

The first Smuts to settle in the Cape 
was Michiel Cornells, who came out 
from Zeeland in the service of the 
Dutch East India Company in 1692. 

My father's mother was plump 
Catharina (Cato) Petronella de Vries, a 
sister of Bodewyn, the local padre. 
She was a seventh generation descend- 
ant of Jacob Cloete who arrived in 
1652 with van Riebeeck's entourage, 
and in old age was murdered on a farm 
by natives. In Ouma Cato's veins was 
about one-sixth French blood, which 
perhaps accounts for her more mercu- 



rial and impressionable temperament. 
She was a woman of culture and had 
studied music and French in Cape 
Town. As a great teller of stories she 
impressed her young family of four 
sons and two daughters. At the time of 
the Boer War my father wrote: "How 
well I remember the spiritual teaching 
of my mother." 

Boplaas was, in the 1870s, considered 
quite an attractive farm, lying high up 
on the sloping ground below the 
Kasteel, with fine vineyards and lands, 
and an attractive view across the broad 
plains below it to the distant, some- 
times snow-capped, mountains of the 
Groot Winterhoek range in the north. 

In summer, during the height of the 
dry season the aspect was arid and 
uninviting, but with the winter rains it 
became an enchanting panorama of 
emerald green, which was slowly 



transformed into a rich gold as the 
wheat ripened. 

Shortly before the Second World War 
considerable limestone deposits were 
discovered on Boplaas, which was 
thereupon taken over by the Cape 
Portland Cement Company. A 
descendant, van der Byl Smuts, was at 
the time living in the old homestead, 
on the walls of which he had hung 
photographs of General Hertzog and 
Dr. Malan. When Sir Alfred Hennes- 
sy, Chairman of the old South African 
Party, mentioned this fact to my 
father, the latter remarked casually that 
the main branch in old families was 
often inclined to degenerate! 

The house, which was at that time in a 
state of neglect, has since been reno- 
vated and is now once more being 
cared for; Mr. van der Byl Smuts, 



probably still a confirmed Nationalist, 
lives elsewhere. 

In 1945 an old pear tree in the orchard 
was beginning to show signs of decay, 
so the hamlet of Malmesbury secured 
it and had a casket made from the 
wood, which it presented to my father 
on his seventy-fifth birthday. It is with 
me at present for safe keeping. My 
father well remembered scrambling 
about in the tree as a boy. 

The setting at Boplaas was quiet and 
peaceful, forming a striking contrast to 
the seething conditions of the 
republics beyond the Orange River. 
Almost three-quarters of a century 
earlier the British had taken over the 
Cape after a brief skirmish at Blaauw- 
berg, but as annexation was achieved 
with comparatively little bloodshed, 
the incident had long since ceased to 
rankle in the minds of the old 



colonists. Nor did the problem of 
mixed European population obtrude 
itself upon the Smuts environs, for 
they were here in an exclusively Boer 
world. Consequently my father grew 
up in an atmosphere devoid of 
prejudices and one benevolent towards 
the British. Though shaken on one 
occasion, that benign heritage never 
left him and was to form one of the 
dominant themes of his life. 

In the Boplaas household Afrikaans 
was spoken exclusively and it was not 
until my father went to school that he 
first heard English. 



3 : The Republics 

IN the north, on the distant frontiers 
and in the Transvaal and Free State 
republics, the process of establishing a 
foothold was still going on apace and 
there was constant conflict and war, 
often not without good reason, 
between white and black. There was 
equally constant conflict between Boer 
and Briton, the Boer love of freedom 
and independence often clashing with 
the then expansionist phase of British 
imperialism. There is much to be said 
either in mitigation or in condem- 
nation of both parties, for the two 
courses were largely incompatible. 

In 1836 the Boers of the frontier, 
irritated by a series of grievances 
against the British administration, such 
as the compensation swindle following 
the emancipation of the slaves, lack of 
understanding or sympathetic treat- 



ment by Governors of the Cape and 
misrepresentation by missionaries, 
decided that the time had come to 
move on. Whether the decision was 
based upon the burden of the 
grievances or whether it was due 
equally to the inherent restlessness of 
the Boer people, it is difficult to say. 
Whatever the reason, they succumbed 
to their feelings and insatiable wander- 
lust, and set out on a migration into the 
unknown interior with their families 
and belongings, their stock and their 
wagons, on what is known as the 
Great Trek. There were various 
branches to this trek and they 
encountered varying fortunes in their 
wanderings. As an epic of bravery and 
the unflinching facing of great hard- 
ships and odds it has few equals in our 




Orange Free State and Natal 



colourful history, but as a record of 
organisation and co-operation it gave 
but a foretaste of the Confused future. 

Neither the Smuts' s nor Kriges 
participated in the migration, for they 
dwelt in areas far to the south of those 
which felt the urge of discontent. Piet 
Retief, the redoubtable trek leader, 
was, however, closely related to the 
stock of my mother. 

The hardy trekkers, except those who 
moved into the densely populated Zulu 
domain of Natal, moved northwards 
into a country almost devoid of native 
population. This in no small measure 
explains much of the success of the 
trek; for northwards the country had 
come into the orbit of the raiding Zulu 
hordes and indigenous tribes had been 
almost completely wiped out. Only the 
comeliest marriageable maidens were 
spared by the conquerors. In the 



Transvaal the ruthless Moselekatze, 
fugitive lieutenant of Chaka's, whose 
very name meant "Trail of Blood", 
still ravaged the country from end to 
end in a series of sweeps of annihi- 
lation. Before the Boers finally broke 
his power at Marico, it is estimated 
that he had murdered about a half a 
million hapless natives, a record that 
even Genghis Khan might have 
envied. Chaka's own record of over a 
million is surpassed only by the liqui- 
dations of Adolf Hitler and Josef 
Stalin. 

But the battles for white supremacy 
were fought out mainly in Natal, and 
there, too, only after considerable loss 
of life was the Zulu power finally 
broken at Blood River, and the Royal 
Kraal at Umgungundhlovu burnt 
down. 



With the coming of the white man the 
natives, probably for the first time in 
their very ancient tribal history, 
learned to know the meaning of peace 
and freedom from fear; for these 
blessings had never existed under the 
various barbarous and cruel native 
potentates. The Bantu are quick to 
forget this inestimable boon brought to 
them by the white man. 

With the crushing of the Zulu tyrants a 
mild form of peace ensued in the vast 
hinterland. It was not till 1879 that 
trouble once more flared up under 
Cetewayo, who inflicted a major 
defeat upon Lord Chelmsford's forces 
at Isandhlwana. At Ulundi, three days 
later, the Zulu power was finally 
broken. 

By a stroke of fate, the Boers 
happened to stumble into a country 
containing a great wealth of diamonds 



and gold, and these were soon not only 
to attract covetous eyes, but also to 
bring pressing problems. At the time 
the Boers were expanding their grip in 
a black empire by a series of 
skirmishes with the indigenous 
populations. These onslaughts upon 
the black man, often defensive, ran 
counter to deep convictions in Britain, 
where they were almost invariably 
misjudged, and British intolerance of 
the state of affairs was heightened by 
the misrepresentations of certain 
missionaries of the stamp of van der 
Kemp and Philip. 1 



1 T.T. van der Kemp was sent out by the 
London Missionary Society in 1799, and on 
his arrival in Cape Colony made his way inand 
and began work among the Kafirs and 
Hottentots. He was prominent in a movement 
for emancipating them from Boer hands. His 
work was taken up after his death in 1811 by 



Even that peace-loving missionary 
David Livingstone did not escape the 
suspicions of the Boers, being accused 
of complicity in a gun-smuggling 
racket to the natives. In actual fact 
poor Livingstone was quite innocent 
of gun-running, and it was more likely 
that the hunter Gordon-Cumming 2 was 
dealing in this trade. 



Dr. John Philip, who was sent by the Society 
to visit their stations in 1819. He remained in 
Cape Town and devoted his life to the cause 
of the native peoples. One of his more 
impractical schemes was to erect independent 
native states in South Africa. 

2 R. G. Gordon-Cumming (1820-66) was well 
known as a hunter. He resigned his 
commission in the Cape Mounted Rifles in 
1843 and spent five years in a senseless 
slaughter of wild beasts under the guise of big- 
game shooting. In 1848 he returned to 
England where he toured the country with his 
lecture on lion hunting. 



The result of all these suspicions 
mounted up in the end, in many parts, 
to a strained feeling between the two 
white sections. Taking all the factors 
into account, it has nevertheless 
amazed me how remarkably restrained 
those feelings have generally been. It 
says a great deal for the tolerance of 
both parties that it did not. grow into 
something much deeper. 



4 : Boyhood 

But in the world of my father's 
childhood all was peace and quiet. 
Though not a weak or sickly boy, his 
constitution was not robust. Further- 
more, he was the second son in the 
family, which in the Dutch hierarchy 
consigned him to a very much lower 
status in the house than his brother 
Michiel. Michiel was the eldest son 
and on him rested the hopes of the 
family. He was to be ordained a 
minister. 

So my father was very much of an 
unspoiled, though not neglected, 
second fiddle. He was left a fairly free 
hand to do as he wished, providing he 
carried out the prescribed family 
duties of tending his father's flocks of 
geese, goats, horses and cattle. This 
brought him into contact with that 
philosophical old farm hand, the 



wizened Hottentot Adam, who, to my 
youthful father, was a fount of strange 
information. It was old Adam who 
informed him, at a very early age, that 
the English, though a great people, 
were as nothing compared to the other 
people farther across the seas, the 
Scots. They really were God's chosen 
race! This little story, suitably embell- 
ished, my father told in 1934 as Rector 
at St. Andrew's University in Scotland 
during his famous address on 
Freedom. 

Life on the farm, though humdrum in 
many ways, was never monotonous, 
for the veld and the farm held so much 
of interest. The early associations with 
Boplaas and the mountain formed in 
my father that indelible love of the 
veld, farm life and simplicity. Adam 
gave him an early glimpse into the 
psychology of the native in which he 



ever after took an understanding 
interest. His feelings for these people 
were always governed more by this 
practical understanding than by the 
theorising of books or the senti- 
mentalism of the philanthropist. 

As a man of thirty-two he wrote: 
"How well I remembered the years I 
spent tending the cattle on the large 
farm, roaming over all its far expanse 
of veld, in which every kloof, every 
valley, every koppie was endeared to 
me by the most familiar associations. 
Month after month I had spent there in 
lonely occupation - alone with the 
cattle, myself and God. The veld had 
grown part of me, not only in the sense 
that my bones were part of it, but in 
that more vital sense which identifies 
nature with man. ... Having no human 
companion I felt a spirit of comrade- 
ship for the objects of nature around 



me. In my childish way I communed 
with these as with my own soul; they 
became the sharers of my confidence." 

Throughout life he retained a strong 
sentimental attachment to his farming 
forebears. At the age of seventy-seven, 
when receiving the Freedom of 
Malmesbury in England, he still 
claimed with pride: "I am just a son of 
the veld. Malmesbury in South Africa 
is a wheat-growing district not far 
from Cape Town. The whole country 
is covered with wheat farms. I am a 
farmer's son, and my people have 
been farmers throughout the centuries. 
In 1692 the Smuts family migrated to 
South Africa from Holland. Last year I 
went to Middelburg in the Netherlands 
where the Smuts 's came from. There I 
saw the ancient homeland of the 
Smuts family where they had been 



farmers for centuries before coming to 
South Africa." 

That his early life on the farm was 
never dull was reflected in the stories 
he used to tell us - and later our 
children - about the incidents of his 
youth. There were the disconcerting 
occasions when he was chased by his 
father's geese. He used to tell of what 
he called a miraculous escape from 
death when he was five. He was 
playing in the loft above the stables, 
when something gave way and he 
crashed through the ceiling amongst 
the startled mules tethered below. In 
its panic, one began kicking viciously 
backwards, but mercifully on each 
occasion it missed the boy's head by 
inches. One kick, however, did graze 
the back of his head and laid him out. 
It produced a scar, not far from the 
scar of his 1927 carbuncle operation, 



which he bore all his life. He described 
this encounter with the mules as the 
most dangerous and terrifying he ever 
met with. 

On another occasion, I once heard him 
tell to my son, aged four, the story of a 
troop of baboons coming down from 
the mountain into the orchard behind 
the house. The three farm dogs spotted 
them and gave chase. The big leader of 
the baboon pack, whether from 
arrogance, or to cover the retreat of his 
troop, refused to be stampeded and 
climbed into a big fruit tree instead. 
Here he was bayed by the furious 
dogs, and he vented his feelings by 
roaring his defiance even above the 
din of their barking. Aroused by this 
noise, old Jacobus Smuts, muzzle- 
loader in hand and followed by the rest 
of the family, including my father, 
rushed out to see what all the noise 



was about. He took a shot at the 
baboon which fell badly wounded 
amongst the hounds, but the poor beast 
still had some strength left, and before 
it died, it killed the biggest and finest 
of the dogs and mauled both the 
others. 

With this self-same gun my father was 
taught to shoot when he was nine 
years old. I still have the old weapon 
in my possession. Another terrifying 
incident which my father was fond of 
relating was an encounter with a fierce 
dog. It happened during the periodic 
visit to the farm of a smous or peddler, 
when he was a lad of four or five. This 
smous had a big dog with his wagons 
and the great brute broke loose and 
attacked my father, knocked him down 
and stood snarling over him. In this 
position he was shot by old Jacobus, 
falling dead on top of the terrified 



child. Perhaps this incident accounted 
for my father's life-long aversion to 
dogs. 

Life on the farm was not all fun, for 
much hard work devolved upon the 
farm lad of those days. In the 
ploughing season he had to be up 
before the first grey signs of dawn, and 
lead the ox span along the plough 
furrow all day long till late in the 
evening. In the mornings it was cold 
and cheerless and at noontide the sun 
scorched the earth. But young Jan's 
constitution, especially after his fourth 
year, belied his weedy appearance and 
he came through his strenuous days 
well. 

His grandfather sometimes took pity 
on him during the coldest mornings 
and carried him to the fields in his 
arms. 



5 : Stellenbosch 

His brother Michiel died of typhoid 
when my father was twelve. It was 
now left to this younger boy to carry 
on the traditions of the family, and it 
was decided that he should be 
educated and enter the Church. Not 
only was this natural, as Dominie A.J. 
Louw, the Dutch parson, was a close 
friend of old Jacobus, but it was also 
reasonable, as my father showed a 
serious turn of mild for his age. 
Though he had had some elementary 
tuition from his mother at home, it was 
not till the age of twelve that he was 
sent to school for the first time, and it 
was with misgiving that he said 
farewell to the old surroundings and 
went to board at "Die Ark", which 
formed part of the school of Mr. T.C. 
Stofberg in Riebeeck West. "Die Ark", 




J.C. Smuts as Student at Stellenbosch - 1891 



as photographs show, was appro- 
priately named, for it looked rather 
like the superstructure of a boat. It 



nestled at the foot of the Kasteel and 
was well placed for rambles up the 
mountain slopes. 

When my father was eight the family 
had moved to a new inheritance on 
Klipfontein which lay fifteen miles on 
the other side of Riebeeck West. The 
red-shuttered farmhouse here was a 
larger and better building than the old 
homestead at Boplaas and looked out 
upon the broad valley of the Berg 
River in the distance. 

My father entered school with a mind 
so empty, yet so craving for know- 
ledge, that he absorbed all the learning 
Mr. Stofberg had to proffer him. His 
brain was clear and receptive. He 
mastered his studies with a photo- 
graphic faithfulness, readily memori- 
sing much of what he read. Stofberg 
was quick to sense the abilities of his 
pupil and went out of his way to help 



him and to put reading matter at his 
disposal. 

Mr. Stofberg later became an inspector 
of Schools in the Transvaal and by a 
queer turn of events, by no means 
unusual in this country, in 1915 
forsook his inspectorship and entered 
politics to contest, unsuccessfully, the 
Rustenburg parliamentary seat with a 
Smuts candidate. 

My father's brother, Michiel, when at 
school in Riebeeck West, had not 
lodged at "Die Ark" but had boarded 
with the Malan Family on the farm 
Allesverloren, alongside the village. 
There was a youngster, Daniel 
Francois, about the house whom my 
father opposed for years in politics in 
later life. The old Smuts's and Malans 
were very close friends, and eventually 
when they retired from their farms and 
went to live in the village at Riebeeck 



West, they not only saw to it that they 
occupied adjoining houses, but even 
went to the extent of leaving a broad 
gap in the intervening hedge in order 
that the two houses might be as one. 

After a few years at "Die Ark" my 
father went up for his matric in 
Stellenbosch. In the four years at 
Riebeeck West he had gone through 
the work which took the normal boy 
eleven years. So he set off to the 
Victoria College in Stellenbosch, 
where he lodged with Mr. Ackermann 
on the Eerste Rivier end of Dorp 
Street, in the older portion of the town. 
His ambition was keen, but his heart 
was filled with forebodings of the 
worldly distractions that lurked in this 
great centre of learning. The quaint, 
naive, letter he wrote at the time to 
Professor Charles Murray has been 
widely quoted, but it is such a pure, 



old-fashioned creation that I think 
parts deserve to be quoted here again: 

Klipfontein, 

June 12, 1886 

Mr C Murray, 

Professor, Stellenbosch. 

Dear Sir, 

Allow me the honour of your reading 
and answering these few lines. I intend 
coming to Stellenbosch in July next, 
and, having heard that you take an 
exceptionally great interest in the 
youth, I trust you will favour me by 
keeping your eye upon me and helping 
me with your kindly advice. More- 
over, as I shall be a perfect stranger 
there and, as you know such a place, 
where a large puerile element exists, 
affords fair scope for moral, and, what 
is more important, religious tempta- 



tion, which, if yielded to, will eclipse 
alike the expectations of my parents 
and the intentions of myself, a real 
friend will prove a lasting blessing for 
me. For of what use will a mind, 
enlarged and refined in all possible 
ways, be to me, if my religion be a 
deserted pilot and morality a wreck? 

To avoid temptation and to make the 
proper use of my precious time, I 
purposely refuse entering a public 
boarding department, as that of Mr. de 
Kock, but shall board privately (most 
likely at Mr. W. Ackermann's) which 
will, in addition, accord with my 
retired and reserved nature. 

[He then makes a few queries about 
syllabuses and text-books. and 
concludes:] 

Sincerely assuring you of my deep 
gratitude if I may have you for a 



friend, and also if informed on these 
points... 

Your obedient servant, 

J. C. Smuts. 

This letter, so unlike any other he had 
received, impressed the Professor and 
he put it to one side. In 1933 he 
returned it to my father. "After the 
lapse of many years," the Professor 
wrote, "I can recollect distinctly that 
this letter stood out very clearly from 
the run of such communications - the 
writer knew what he wanted... The 
letter tempts me to reminiscences and 
reflections..." 

The letter was written in English, 
which he had been learning for four 
years; it was in a thin, timid hand, 
unlike any I have seen my father use. 




fax C ' A^-~^yi 



r^i- 



MJL^^U 



3~- A 







■ ' 7 











Facsimile of letter of 1886 



My father negotiated the first year at 
Victoria College with flying colours, 
matriculating with distinction and 
coming third on the lists. My mother, 
Sybella Margaretha Krige (better 
known as Isie) came only slightly 
lower. Her home was in the fine Dutch 
gabled house "Klein Libertas", along- 
side the beautiful oak-lined avenue of 
Dorp Street. Nine years later she was 
to marry my father. She was the 
daughter of Japie Krige, a well known 
and respected wine and dairy farmer, 
and their home was a pious one. She 
was as serious minded as my father. 
Photographs show her as a lovely girl, 
slender and small, with curly brown 
hair and blue eyes. She was two-thirds 
French by extraction, and had 
inherited their daintiness rather than 
the more ponderous build of the 
women of purer Dutch descent. My 



mother's forebears were Huguenots 
who came to South Africa at the 
beginning of the eighteenth century. 

The Kriges were an able family, many 
of its members having reached the top 
of their various professions. They were 
also noted athletes and Rugby players. 
But like most people in Stellenbosch 
they did not love the English. 

After matriculating, my mother spent 
five years at Helderberg, near 
Stellenbosch, as a school teacher. 

On their way to school, my father and 
mother chatted animatedly as they 
walked under the massive oaks, some 
planted in the seventeenth century by 
Simon van der Stel. Sometimes my 
father carried her books for her. In this 
quiet way the friendship ripened and 
they studied and read books on botany 
and poetry together. 



The Smuts and Krige families did not 
know each other till these Stellenbosch 
days. "It was at this stage that I first 
met the girl, then my class-mate, who 
was to become my wife ten years 
afterwards," my father was to write 
years afterwards in a diary. "Less 
idealistic than I, but more human ..., 
she first like the spirit of poetry in 
Goethe, recalled me from my 
intellectual isolation and made me 
return to my fellows." 

There was nothing particularly 
romantic about the courtship. They 
were rather reserved and 
undemonstrative, and from 

questioning and teasing our mother, 
we decided that it was rather an odd 
and old-fashioned courtship. The two 
young people, though probably not 
oblivious of the fine surroundings, saw 
more of the beauties of the classics 



and the poets than of the fine scenery 
around them. But what the courtship 
lacked in impetuosity it gained in 
depth of friendship and understanding. 
That friendship, unscathed and 
undiminished, withstood the test of 
time, and was the basis of a fruitful 
and exemplary married life. 

Greek formed part of the curriculum. 
My father tackled it for the first time 
during the six-day holiday before his 
final term, and locking himself up in 
his room memorised the books and 
mastered Greek to such effect that he 
not only passed his exams, but actually 
headed the Cape lists in this subject. 
He considered that the most 
remarkable feat of memorising in his 
life. 

In those days he could memorise large 
portions of books by, reading through 
them. At Stellenbosch his examiners 



were, till they learned to understand 
this prodigy, inclined to accuse the 
youngster of cribbing, for many of his 
answers were verbatim from the text- 
books. At Stellenbosch his faculty for 
memorising was at its peak, he used to 
say, and by the time he reached 
Cambridge it had already waned 
somewhat. Yet at the age of sixty and 
seventy, while working at his botany 
he was still memorising the tens of 
thousands of intricate Latin names of 
plants with the greatest facility. But as 
eighty approached I noticed that he 
often had to fumble for a name. This 
was partially due, I think, to the 
pressure of work during World War II, 
which gave him little time to keep up 
this hobby. Many might consider 
prodigious memory a blessing, yet as 
an old man my father was to remark to 
my mother how happy he was now 



that he was losing this gift and 
growing forgetful. 

Cecil Rhodes, Prime Minister of the 
Cape, paid a visit to Victoria College 
in 1888. My father was asked to make 
a speech of welcome on behalf of the 
students. The substance of this speech 
was remarkable for a boy of seven- 
teen. He spoke of PanAfricanism, a 
theme dear to Rhodes. Rhodes made 
no effort to meet the boy but remarked 
to J.H. Hofmeyr, who was sitting next 
to him: "Keep your eye on the young 
fellow Smuts." John X. Merriman, that 
distinguished figure of the old Cape 
parliament, said to my grandfather 
Jacobus: "Jan will be the first man in 
South Africa." 

At this stage my father was of a 
religious frame of mind and regularly 
attended Sunday services in the Dutch 
Reformed Church near the Theological 



College. After services he would hold 
Bible classes for coloured youths to 
whom he expounded the truths about 
the book. He also belonged to a Bible 
circle. He never lost his love for the 
Bible, though his religious feeling for 
it gradually changed in after life to an 
interest in it as a panorama of life and 
a psychological study, and as the 
supreme classic of the English 
language. 

During the six hectic days in which he 
was memorising his Greek books for 
his matriculation examination, he read 
Shelley as a diversion. He became 
deeply engrossed in this young poet, 
and throughout life preferred Shelley, 
in whom he found more of the 
philosopher, to other poets. He later 
went on to Keats, Milton and 
Shakespeare and other classics, though 
of these, Shakespeare is the one in 



whom he sustained the greatest 
interest. In later life he was to develop 
a special passion for Shakespeare's 
tragedies, which as a group, he 
considered the greatest fictional works 
in English. 

As a youth he read the German poets, 
especially Goethe and Schiller, but 
these he appreciated perhaps more as 
psychological studies than as 
examples of classical art. 

While at Stellenbosch, under Professor 
Mansveld, he learned Netherlands 
Dutch; and with his quick and 
thorough mind became one of the 
most proficient scholars in the 
country. In it he wrote a paper on the 
"Commerce and Prosperity of the 
Netherlands During the Eighty Years 
War", which was acclaimed as a fine 
example of the Dutch language. For its 
sheer purity of diction, it created a 



profound impression on Dr. Leyds, a 
member of Kruger's government. 
Years later the superb Netherlands 
Dutch of his Century of Wrong was 
also to draw praise from Dr. Gustav 
Preller, the South African historian. 

At nineteen my father contributed 
"Homo Sum", a learned dissertation 
on slavery. His pen was never idle. 
Dutch and English flowed from it with 
equal facility, and the newspapers 
were full of his leaders, letters, articles 
and reviews. The tremendous energy 
of the man, which in those days found 
expression through the pen, was a life- 
long characteristic. 

"The five years I spent at Victoria 
College, Stellenbosch," he wrote years 
afterwards, "were probably the 
happiest of my life. I read much and 
widely, but especially the poets and 
philosophical writers. I had not yet any 



defined channel of thinking or feeling. 
My mind was simply dazzled and 
attracted by beauty in all its 
intellectual forms... My passion for 
nature made me spend most of my free 
time in the mountains, along the 
streams and in the innumerable 
winding valleys." 



6 : Cambridge 

In 1891 my father took his degree in 
Science as well as Literature and 
obtained honours in both. This success 
won for him the Ebdin Scholarship for 
overseas study, which at that time was 
worth only £100 a year. He decided to 
take Law at Cambridge and, selling his 
farm stock and borrowing an addi- 
tional £380 from Professor Marais, he 
set out in the Roslyn Castle for 
England. In 1894 an additional £100 
per year was voted to Smuts "in 
consideration of his distinguished 
success as a student at Cambridge". 
His application in 1892 for additional 
assistance from the Trustees had been 
withdrawn, as he was told it was in- 
opportune and that its strong wording 
would create a bad impression. 

Many of his contemporaries at Christ's 




J.C. Smuts at Cambridge - November 1892 



College remembered the serious-faced 
youth at Cambridge. He preferred to 
further his studies rather than have a 
good time. In any case his frugal 



means did not permit such a course. 
One can well imagine his fellow 
students looking upon him as a some- 
what anti-social type. He took part in 
no organised sport, and preferred, as at 
Stellenbosch, to go walking in the 
country. On these rambles he would 
take books with him, books on poetry 
and philosophy rather than standard 
works for his studies. Here, in the 
solitude of the walks alone along the 
Cam, or in the woods or on the hills 
farther afield, he would pore over 
these books and no doubt scheme for 
the future. 

"At Cambridge", he says in his diary, 
"I read much, walked much and 
thought much; and when I left the 
University I had probably drunk as 
deeply of the well of knowledge as 
most... I did not, however, mix much 
in the social life of the place." For the 



irresponsible, rollicking type of under- 
graduate he had little praise. 

And so, in the beauties of the English 
countryside and the atmosphere of the 
University, the days passed pleasantly 
and fruitfully. All the time that 
brilliant brain was active; he not only 
found time for an immense amount of 
study, but also in his leisure began, in 
1894, a lengthy treatise entitled "Walt 
Whitman - A Study in the Evolution 
of Personality." The connection with 
Whitman is slender, for it is in 
essentials an abstract study of person- 
ality. The angle of approach to the 
subject is a new one and the concept 
not dissimilar to that which brought 
fame later to Sigmund Freud. But this 
treatise differed from a psycho-analyst 
text-book in that it did not split 
personality into the conscious, sub- 
conscious and other parts, but con- 



sidered it as one integrated whole. 
This conception of wholes was to 
mature slowly in his mind, and thirty 
years later to appear in his book 
Holism and Evolution. "Walt Whit- 
man" holds the germ of holism; that 
the whole is something greater than 
the mere sum total of its parts - that it 
has gained a new character by this 
unity. In this earlier work my father 
says: "Every individual form of life is 
a unity, a centre of activity dominated 
by one fundamental property. It is this 
ultimate internal unity that shapes the 
innumerable products of life into an 
orderly and harmonious whole." He 
says also: "In every individual form of 
life this fundamental property operates 
according to its own laws and forms. 
By studying the mental life as a whole 
... we shall soon get beyond the range 
of the pure psychologist." 



It was unfortunate that my father chose 
Whitman for his study, for Whitman 
was a man that attracted little attention 
at the time. Had he selected Goethe, it 
is possible that he might have got a 
publisher for his book, so laboriously 
copied out in freehand by my mother. 
Messrs. Chapman & Hall refused it as 
"not opportune" and "unlikely for the 
present to win any readers". George 
Meredith read it for them. Unfor- 
tunately the real purpose of the book 
escaped him, for he considered it as a 
merely literary study of Whitman. 

In a letter to the publishing firm of 
Longmans Green, written on 18th 
May, 1895, my father describes his 
book as "an attempt to apply the 
method of Evolution synthetically to 
the study of Man". He goes on: "You 
will perhaps ask why I took Whitman, 
who is certainly not popular in this 



country. I took him, not only because 
he is perhaps the most difficult 
Personality that could be taken and 
thus supplies a very severe test of my 
general theory, but because his life and 
work raise so many of the great 
questions which surround personal 
evolution." He concludes naively: "I 
anticipate a good circulation in 
America." Longmans Green were not 
tempted to publish it. Finally, when 
already back again in South Africa, 
my father tried to get it published in 
England in serial form by the 
Nineteenth Century, but they too 
returned it unpublished. 

After this unsympathetic treatment the 
work reposed quietly on a dusty shelf 
in my father's study for forty years 
before he chanced to glance at it again. 
Holism had already appeared some 
years previously. He was much 



interested in his early work, remark- 
ing, "I have read some of the chapters 
again, and not without amazement. It 
is full of puerility, but it has 
remarkable stuff, as coming from a 
youngster of twenty-four. Indeed in 
some respects it is better than Holism 
and Evolution written thirty years 
later." He said it would never be 
published now, for it was a "boy's 
book". Perhaps one day "Walt Whit- 
man" may appear as a study of 
Smuts' s personality. 

His studies at Cambridge were a 
triumph, and though he did both parts 
of the Law Tripos simultaneously he 
gained distinction in both, a feat 
claimed by the Cape Times as "quite 
unparalleled", and described by the 
Encyclopaedia Britannica as "unpre- 
cedented". Professor Maitland long 
afterwards described him as the most 



brilliant law student he had ever 
taught. 

The amazing thing about my father's 
brain was that it came from a family 
background that had, so far as we 
know, never produced anything that 
might be described as exceptional, far 
less brilliant. 

He won the George Long prize in 
Roman Law and Jurisprudence, a prize 
only awarded in cases of exceptional 
merit. In December, 1894, the Council 
of Legal Education awarded him a 
prize of £50 for the best paper on 
Constitutional Law (English and 
Colonial) and Legal History. It was 
indeed "an amazing series of suc- 
cesses"! He entered the Middle 
Temple after passing the entrance 
exam with distinction, and practised as 
a barrister with some success. He was 
now twenty-five. 



Christ's College offered him a 
fellowship in Law, but he turned it 
down. 

My father never forgot his old 
University or his debt of gratitude for 
what it had meant to him in early life. 
Whenever he was in Britain, in war or 
in peace, he always made a point of 
paying Christ's College a visit and 
seeing the Master. Nor did Cambridge 
ever forget its protege, for it appointed 
him Chancellor in 1948, and with due 
ceremony inducted him into the post. 
My brother Japie also spent two very 
pleasant years at Christ's where he 
gained a double first in the Engin- 
eering Tripos. 

Apart from the tedium of study, 
Smuts' s Cambridge days were un- 
eventful. He had not the money to go 
abroad or to travel. He got about 
mostly on his own two feet. He took 



out a life insurance policy which he 
ceded to Professor Marais as security 
for his loan. The insurance agents did 
not want to grant him comprehensive 
coverage, as they were uncertain about 
his slender appearance and hereditary 
background of diabetes. His doctor 
examined him at Cambridge and said, 
"Drink beer, my boy. It will do you 
good!" In 1950 he still drank beer 
because he enjoyed it. 

Perhaps my father's most vivid 
memory of the University was an 
incident when they were walking in 
procession to some ceremony. Out of a 
clear sky a solitary flash of lightning 
struck dead a student walking ten feet 
ahead of him. Throughout his long 
outdoor life he weathered many a wild 
African thunderstorm, but he was 
indifferent to them, beyond admiring 
the vivid display. Only on one 



occasion, when wandering alone on 
the hills at Irene, was he frightened by 
a storm. It smote the earth with the 
noise and intensity of an artillery 
barrage on the Western Front and 
seeing "fireballs" bowling across the 
veld, he lay down for protection. 
Twice, long afterwards, aircraft in 
which he was flying were struck by 
lightning. 

But my father was a son of the 
sunshine; the drear skies of Britain 
depressed him and he yearned for the 
veld of his homeland and, maybe, for 
that attractive young lady of 
Stellenbosch. 

So in 1895 he sailed for home and I 
know with what feeling of delight he 
saw the dim grey shape of Table 
Mountain once more looming into 
view. 



Soon he was to hear the Atlantic 
beating heavily on the familiar shore- 
line and to feel the impatient south- 
easter tugging at his clothes as it 
rushed past, to sense the warm 
atmosphere of this sunny land, and 
breathe the fragrance of the wild Cape 
heath. It was indeed good to be back - 
with all the prospects and ambitions of 
a new young life stretching limitlessly 
before hum. 

Before we pass on let us pause to take 
a good look at this youth, Jan 
Christian Smuts. He has been 
described by various biographers as 
gaunt and taciturn, as hollow-faced 
and serious, as physically feeble and 
unsociable. It is impossible to refute 
these descriptions too strenuously. 
Take a look at this slender youth of 
five feet nine and see if any of these 
assertions were true. In appearance he 



was fair with blue eyes, golden wavy 
hair and a transparent skin. Photo- 
graphs show him as attractive in 
appearance, with certainly no hint of 
gauntness. Perhaps his high and 
slightly prominent cheek-bones might 
suggest that; maybe his over- 
developed orbital bosses, the forehead 
bumps above his eyes, would tend to 
make him look formidable. In build he 
was slender though the sloping 
shoulders belied their breadth. His 
chest was big and deep. 

I think my father must have been a 
presentable and comely youth, fair and 
clean looking, and serious of 
countenance. Not for nothing did those 
blue eyes of his develop the 
surrounding deep puckers that denote 
a sense of humour. 

Old friends of his, especially my 
mother, deny that he was unsociable or 



unfriendly. They did not even notice 
that he was over-serious, for in the 
sleepy God-fearing hamlets of the 
Boland of those days, it was the 
normal demeanour of the people. The 
gaiety of Cape Town of the earlier 
days of the British occupation, as well 
described by Lady Anne Barnard, 3 
never touched the more serious 
hinterland to the north. Farms were too 
far apart and people too hard-working 



3 Lady Anne Barnard (1750-1825) was a 
daughter of the Earl of Balcarres and wife of 
Andrew Barnard, whom she accompanied in 
1793 to South Africa on his appointment as 
colonial secretary to Lord Macartney, 
Governor of the Cape. On her husband's death 
in 1807 she returned to England, and settling 
in London, her Berkeley Square home became 
the centre of a considerable literary coterie. 
Her letters from South Africa were published 
in 1901 as South Africa a Century Ago. 



to indulge in an extravagance of 
pleasure. 

From the number of friends my father 
had and from the full house of visitors 
he always kept in Pretoria, he must 
have been a hospitable and agreeable 
host. The house was not only full, but 
usually overflowed into the annexe, 
where young men such as Deneys 
Reitz, Jimmie Roos, my uncle Tottie 
Krige, etc., were lodged. A huge tub 
stood in the garden alongside the 
annexe, and in summer some 
embarrassment was caused to other 
visitors by the naked bathers of the 
annexe in this tub. 

In short, the worst that can be said 
about my father was that he took life a 
little too seriously; in every other 
respect he was a pleasant person and a 
good companion. At Cambridge he 
may have lacked a raucous sense of 



humour or an appreciation of youthful 
ribaldry, but it could never be said of 
him that he lacked an extremely well- 
developed sense of humour, even 
when a witticism was at his own 
expense. 

In later years, when my father was an 
old man, I saw him in the company 
and the councils of the great men of 
his day. The impression always given 
was that in appearance, in intellect and 
in personality he stood above his 
illustrious contemporaries. 

During his time at Stellenbosch, and 
until he married and left for Pretoria - 
a period of about eight years - my 
father was in a romantic frame of 
mind. Not only did he greedily study 
the great poets and philosophers, but 
he began to write poetry and 
philosophy himself. This is a phase in 
every young person's life, and my 



mother played a decisive part in it. She 
was a girl who knew the great writers, 
and it was she who provided much of 
the inspiration, who read and recited to 
him and encouraged him to do 
likewise. From all accounts both of 
them wrote poetry in those days, and it 
is a pity that my mother some years 
ago destroyed all she had written. To 
this day she still has a great knowledge 
of the older poets and it must be 
indeed a difficult quotation she cannot 
place. 



7 : Cape Town 

In 1877, barely half a dozen years after 
the discovery of diamonds, Joseph 
Chamberlain, upon the slender pretext 
of an alleged violation of the Sand 
River Convention, ordered Sir Theo- 
philus Shepstone to annex the Trans- 
vaal. The Boers rose in righteous 
indignation at this act of aggression, 
and the result was the First Anglo- 
Boer War of 1880-81. In a crucial 
battle at Majuba 4 on the green border 
of Natal, the British suffered a reverse 
in which General Colley was killed; 
peace was once more restored. But 



4 At Majuba Hill Sir George Colley, in 
command of 650 men, was defeated on the 
27th February, 1881. The British had climbed 
the hill in the darkness of the previous night, 
and had established themselves, but a surprise 
attack from a superior force of Boers wiped 
them out. 



under the terms the British maintained 
their suzerainty over the Transvaal and 
the liberties of the Boers were still 
substantially restricted. The Pretoria 
Convention of 1881, however, 
restored the Transvaal to full indepen- 
dence. But if victory was swift; it was 
equally indecisive, and the British 
smarted under their solitary defeat. 
What was significant to subsequent 
history, however, was the fact that 
they had not learned their lesson from 
this episode. Nor were they to learn it 
from the abortive Jameson Raid 
scarcely a dozen years later. Britain 
was in a belligerent mood of expan- 
sion. The logical successor to the Raid 
was the Second Anglo-Boer War, and 
that set up a chain reaction which still 
reverberates around the world. 

The discovery of diamonds was as 
nothing to the mad rush that succeeded 



the discovery of gold, in Barberton in 
1883 and on the bleak plateau of the 
Witwatersrand three years later. The 
old prospectors never realised what 
they had stumbled upon when they 
first struck the gold-bearing outcrops 
in the tall grass at Langlaagte. Here 
was wealth beyond the dreams of 
avarice. Here were problems that 
would lead to war. 

It was into this hectic world that my 
father returned from the shelter of 
Cambridge, though as yet he was not 
aware of the forces about him. He was 
intent only on making a career in the 
legal world of the Cape. So he set up 
in practice in Cape Town, but though a 
great reputation had preceded him, he 
lacked experience and his briefs were 
few. To supplement his income he 
wrote for the papers, in Afrikaans and 




J. C. Smuts aged 33 

English, and his contributions covered 
many subjects from book reviews and 
odd scraps of poetry, to descriptive 
articles on the life of the times, and to 
politics. He spent some of his spare 



time in Parliament, reporting the 
debates and pondering the ways of 
politicians. His interest in politics 
grew and he began to feel that his 
future lay not in the quiet chambers of 
the Law, but in the rough and tumble 
of the political world. From the 
Gallery in the House of Assembly he 
saw seated in the Legislature the 
illustrious men of his day. His father 
was still there, but was known rather 
for his long silences than for brilliance 
of repartee. There below him sat 
Jameson, John X. Merriman, Jan 
Hendrik Hofmeyr, and many others 
who later became famous. He 
marvelled at the superb debating skill 
of Merriman, standing tall, thin and 
swaying on his huge feet. Hofmeyr 
was the Leader of the Afrikaner Bond 
Party, 5 which embraced mostly the 



The Afrikaner Bond was founded in 1879 



Dutch element of the electorate. He 
was a mild and conciliatory man, and 
co-operated with other parties, not 
because his majority was indecisive 
but because he felt that salvation for 
the country lay only in the welding 
together of the two great sections. A 
nephew of his, of similar name, was 
one day to make an even greater name 
for himself, and his broader co- 
operation embraced the non-Euro- 
peans as well. 

My father, scholar and dreamer that he 
was, fell under the spell of the House. 



with the purpose of removing British power 
and influence from S. Africa. Its headquarters 
was at the Cape but it had affiliations 
throughout S. Africa. J. H. Hofmeyr and J. X. 
Merrimau acquired predominant influence in 
the Bond, however, and under their guidance 
it lost its animosity and worked for the cause 
of a united country. 



The struggle to supplement his income 
continued and he worked harder than 
ever. He had little spare time from 
Parliament and his legal tuition 
classes, but even in those days Table 
Mountain became a life-long solace 
and friend to him and he often 
struggled up its rugged face for 
inspiration. 

It was a proud day for my father when 
John X. Merriman told him that J.H. 
Hofmeyr wanted to see him. He 
wanted my father to take up politics 
openly on the side of Rhodes, who 
was being severely criticised for his 
native policy and other matters. 




J.C. Smuts with Mrs. Smuts and daughter 
Santa - 1903. 



8 : Cecil John RHODES 

On the 5th July, 1853, there was born 
to the Vicar of Bishop's Stortford a 
son to become famous as Cecil John 
Rhodes, a somewhat tubercular lad in 
a family of five. As a young man he 
went to South Africa for his health, 
and was there when the diamond rush 
to Kimberley started; so he set off with 
his brother Frank to seek health and 
fortune in this dusty land of promise. 
Rhodes has been called an arrogant 
materialist. He was not a man of 
abnormal intelligence, but he had a 
remarkable faculty for business, and a 
cool and ruthless brain. He saw that 
the salvation of the chaos at Kimberley 
lay in the amalgamation of the 
multitude of struggling small claims 
and grouping them into larger units. 
The diggers were in bad straits in 
those days, and claims could be 



acquired very cheaply, so his scheme 
prospered. But Barney Barnato, Solly 
Joel and others had had similar 
visions, and ere long Kimberley was 
split between these big competitors. It 
was at this stage that Rhodes, aided by 
Alfred Beit, showed his mettle, and by 
shrewd business diplomacy swallowed 
up some of his adversaries. It brought 
him unlimited wealth, and with wealth 
went power. He was not satisfied with 
either, for he had a strange complex 
that craved the aura of culture, and he 
decided to take a degree at Oxford. As 
a sentimentalist and man of means he 
had big ideas and in his dreams he had 
sweeping visions. By the grace of God 
those visions were mostly sound, but 
even these he was prepared to impair 
for material gains, as the Jameson 
Raid revealed. 



Rhodes dreamed of an All Red route 
to Cairo, and in the memorial above 
Groote Schuur he is fittingly depicted 
as gazing to the hinterland in the 
North. 

The mad rush for the partition of 
Southern Africa was on. Rhodes, 
having made a success of diamonds 
failed to grasp the chance the new 
goldfields of Johannesburg offered and 
was badly outwitted by some of his 
old Kimberley adversaries. By the 
time he saw his error, it was too late. 
What was more natural, therefore, than 
that he should turn his attention 
beyond the Limpopo, to the great 
empty tract of country that now bears 
his name, for there, his intuition told 
him, were to be found fabulous reefs 
of gold. So by virtue of his wealth, the 
good services of his friend Dr. L. S. 
Jameson, who doctored the rheumatic 



Matabele potentate Lobengula, and by 
his own very great personal courage in 
parleying with the natives, he managed 
to secure this important tract of land 
from under the very noses of the 
grabbing Germans. The entry of his 
pioneer column into this new 
Chartered Company area was across 
Providential Pass. For South Africa it 
was indeed providential to have a 
friend on her northern frontiers; but 
the famous hunter, Frederick Courtney 
Selous, 6 who acted as guide to the 



F. C. Selous (1851-1917) was a hunter and 
ivory trader from 1871 to 1881, when he 
entered the service of the British South Africa 
Company. He negotiated between Cecil 
Rhodes and Lobengula in 1890 and was 
instrumental in securing Mashonaland for 
Britain. He was killed near Kissaki in German 
East Africa in World War I. 



column, did not realise this when he 
named the road. 

It took Rhodes some time to realise 
how badly his intuition had misled 
him. Perhaps it was this realisation, 
perhaps just ruthlessness, that induced 
him to get embroiled with Kruger on 
the Rand. 

But at this stage Rhodes appeared to 
my father as a great idealist and his 
visions were those which my father 
could himself readily appreciate. How 
was he to know that Rhodes' s co- 
operation with Jan Hofmeyr was 
merely a shallow veneer? Even 
Hofmeyr himself could not see 
through this ambitious friendship. 

In October, 1895, my father paid a 
hurried visit to the Transvaal to spy 
out the land. The ways of the sleepy 
old Cape were too leisurely for him 



and he saw a greater future in the new 
Republic in the north. 

The "colossal materialism" of the 
seething gold town of Johannesburg 
staggered him, with its numerous 
adventurers, all intent on making 
quick fortunes. Pretoria, that quiet 
little town lying warmly in a cup of 
hills, with its bearded patriarchs and 
unpretentious houses, was very 
different. "I was agreeably surprised", 
he wrote, "by the aristocratic quiet 
pervading this handsome little town." 

On the 29th of that month he 
addressed his first big political 
meeting. It was in Kimberley Town 
Hall, under the chairmanship of the 
Mayor. The purpose of the address 
was to rebut certain charges of forced 
native labour levelled at Rhodes, and 
to counter the criticism of his native 



policy by the Cronwright Schreiner. 7 
The charge came about as the result of 
the Glen Grey Act which persuaded 
natives to vote by taxing those who 
did not. At that time certain local 
negrophilists, of whom the best known 
was Mr. Saul Solomon, were 
becoming very active. Mr. Rhodes's 
championship of the phrase "equal 
rights for all civilised men south of the 
Zambesi" did not, however, render 
him averse to the small measure of 
discrimination of the Glen Grey Act. 
My father took this opportunity of 
reading the Europeans a brief homily: 
"Unless the white race closes its 
ranks", he warned, its position will 



7 Mrs Cronwright Schreiner (1862-1920), wife 
of S. C. Cronwright Schreiner, was better 
known as Olive Schreiner, author of The Story 
of a South African Farm. Her husband was a 
member of the Cape Parliament. 



soon become untenable in the face of 
the overwhelming majority of prolific 
barbarism." He dwelt also upon the 
Bond, diamonds, fair and free trade, 
Mr. Rhodes's dual position in 
Rhodesia and the Cape Confederation. 
"The theory of democracy as currently 
understood and practised in Europe 
and America", he declared in one 
portion of his address, is inapplicable 
to the coloured races of South Africa... 
You cannot safely apply to the 
barbarous and semi-barbarous natives 
the advanced political principles and 
practice of the foremost peoples of 
civilisation. Too often we make the 
mistake of looking upon democracy 
as a deduction from abstract 
principles, instead of regarding it 
rather as the outcome of practical 
politics." The speech received a mixed 
reception. The Bond organs naturally 



defended him, but others launched 
bitter attacks. This was my father's 
first taste of politics, but he had 
already come to the conviction that 
silence is golden, and he made no 
attempt to defend himself. 

Perhaps I may quote here my father's 
own impression of this Kimberley 
speech, written in a diary during the 
Boer War: 

When Mr. Cecil Rhodes appeared on 
the scene in 1889 as Premier of the 
Cape Colony under Bond auspices, 
with a platform of racial conciliation, 
political consolidation of South Africa 
and northern expansion, my natural 
bias as well as the glamour of 
magnificence which distinguished this 
policy from the "parish pump" politics 
of his predecessors, made me a sort of 
natural convert to his views. I began to 
dream of a great South Africa in which 



the English and Boer peoples would 
dwell together in happy concord. 

In 1895, and at the very time when the 
chief conspirators of the Jameson Raid 
were most busy hatching and 
preparing for their criminal schemes, I 
made a speech at Kimberley, which, 
while normally a defence of the Bond- 
Rhodes alliance in Cape politics, was 
really intended to set forth the general 
principles of a broader common politi- 
cal platform on a reconciled basis for 
both the white peoples of the Cape 
Colony. This speech, although it was 
called by a hostile daily newspaper of 
the day the "ablest and clearest expo- 
sition yet given of the principles of the 
Bond-Rhodes alliance" did not attract 
much attention and was indeed 
completely overshadowed by a pam- 
phlet written by Olive Schreiner and 
her husband, in which it was pointed 



out with prophetic accuracy that the 
alliance would never last and its 
influence would in any case be most 
detrimental to the public welfare, 
because the motives of Mr. Rhodes 
were neither honest nor public spirited. 
I gave no heed to their warning for I 
had yet to learn that a politician of 
such standing and influence as Mr. 
Rhodes would openly and shamelessly 
deceive, not his enemies, but his very 
friends and associates. 

Upon the failure of his quest for gold 
in Rhodesia Rhodes switched his 
attention to the rich reefs of Johannes- 
burg on which Kruger was now sitting 
so smugly. At all costs he must now 
get control of these. His ruthless 
business brain swept aside his saner 
political judgment. Perhaps it was the 
realisation that his days were limited 
that spurred him on. His fatal illness 



was on him. He could not wait. In his 
dying words he identified himself with 
this urge. In Paul Kruger he met a 
rocklike obstinacy. 



9 : Kruger And The Jameson Raid 

The better to assess the events that 
followed we must realise how com- 
pletely Paul Kruger differed from 
Cecil Rhodes. Kruger as a lad of 
twelve had moved off with his parents 
on the Great Trek and in the harsh 
school of this rough-and-tumble life he 
grew up. The atmosphere of his 
surroundings, though a godly one, 
combined deep distrust of the British 
and hostility to the natives. His 
education and code of behaviour he 
took from the Old Testament; his 
shrewdness from the school of bitter 
experience. As a youth he had 
extraordinary physical strength and to 
this day the natives of the northern 
Transvaal have a legend of this 
remarkable white athlete. The addition 
of great courage made him a resolute 
and formidable opponent. Into this 



solid barnacled mass, now turned into 
an old and irritable patriarch, Rhodes 
charged with his impetuous ambition. 
Kruger was not impressed. In fact, at 
their one and only meeting the 
Englishman irritated him. With that 
went all reasonable hopes of friendly 
discussion and compromise on the 
problems which intimately touched 
them. Kruger had no desire to see the 
60,000 alien Uitlanders of the 
Johannesburg goldfields dominate the 
policy of his Republic of 30,000 
burghers, but he was prepared to 
permit them franchise rights after 
fourteen years of residence. When one 
considers the amorphous nature of the 
mining fraternity, Kruger's concession 
was not ungenerous. Under extreme 
pressure the period of qualification 
was later reduced to five years. 



But Rhodes wanted not the little finger 
- he wanted the whole hand, and he 
was not a man to let scruples bar his 
way. So he not only encouraged, but 
actively aided and abetted, the growth 
of elements subversive to Kruger on 
the goldfield. The Reform Committee 
was formed and organised on a quasi- 
military basis, and arms were smugg- 
led by every means into the golden 
city. The intention was that a rising 
within the town should correspond 
with an invasion of 500 sympathisers 
under Dr. Jameson, from the Bech- 
uanaland border at Pitsani. The organi- 
sing ability and security measures of 
the Reform party were, however, 
inferior to their business acumen, and 
information reached the President of 
what was happening and in the end the 
timing of the move also broke down. 
So when Dr. Jameson approached with 



his men he was set upon by Piet 
Cronje at Doornkop, not far from 
Johannesburg, and well beaten, and 
members of the Reform Committee of 
Johannesburg were also taken into 
custody. This, in essence, was the 
unhappy incident known as the 
Jameson Raid. 

In spite of its futility, the repercussions 
of the Raid were serious and far- 
reaching, for it was established that 
some of the highest in the Empire 
were party to it. Sir Henry Lock, 
British High Commissioner at the 
Cape, the British Prime Minister, Lord 
Rosebery, and the Colonial Secretary, 
Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, were 
implicated. Europe was staggered by 
this act of "international brigandage" 
and Germany adopted a hostile 
attitude. The Bond denounced Cecil 
Rhodes in the strongest terms and he 



was ousted from the premiership of 
the Cape and from the chairmanship of 
the De Beers and Chartered Compa- 
nies. Racialism flamed in the Cape, 
and the Transvaal and Free State 
Republics were driven into each 
other's arms. The Raid was to echo 
across the world and across the years. 

It was on New Year's Day, 1896, 
exactly two months after my father 
had made his Kimberley speech, as he 
was sitting on the stoep of his parents' 
home at Riebeeck West, that the news 
of the Raid reached him. He was 
aghast. This was not only a major 
breach of faith, but it stung him 
personally, for Rhodes had made a 
fool of him. The duplicity of the man 
left him furious. In one rash move was 
demolished the good work of 
friendship and co-operation between 
the two white races. He did not take 



solace in the fact that shrewder 
politicians such as Hofmeyr had been 
taken in by Rhodes. He had come to 
his first big crossroads in life, and it 
turned him towards Kruger. 

He wrote bitterly in 1902: 

How shall I ever describe the 
sensations with which I received the 
news on New Year's Day of 1896 of 
that fatal and perfidious venture... 
When during the political storms that 
arose after the Jameson Raid 1 quietly 
asked myself whether I had really been 
wrong in striving so hard for the 
national fusion and concord of the 
white races, I came to the conclusion 
that I had not been wrong, that my 
ultimate political lodestar was not a 
will-o'-the-wisp and was worthy of 
being followed in the future even more 
seriously than I had done in the past. 



In the course of 1896 it became so 
clear to me that the British connection 
was harmful to South Africa's best 
interest that I feared my future position 
as a Cape politician would be a false 
one. I therefore left the old Colony for 
good and settied in Johannesburg 
where the next two years were spent in 
quiet isolation and hard professional 
work... During these two years I was a 
silent but intensely interested spectator 
of the whole South African drama as it 
was being played in the Golden City 
where grievances were made quite as 
systematically as money... My 
profession brought me behind the 
scenes... I felt convinced the inevitable 
struggle was approaching... 

I also felt very strongly that I was very 
young and inexperienced and that it 
would be far better for me to devote 
myself for some years purely to my 



professional work and abstain from all 
politics and thus allow my mind to 
mature quietly. 



10 : State Attorney 

In September, 1896, Ons Land 
announced that Advocate Smuts 
would seek admission to the Transvaal 
Bar. "It would be a cause for regret if 
the Cape were to lose one of its 
cleverest, most promising sons." But 
my father had made up his mind, and 
the Cape did lose one of its most 
promising sons, for not long after he 
left for Johannesburg and set up in 
chambers Commissioner Street. The 
practice, though steady, never really 
flourished and to assist he also 
lectured in Law. 

At the end of April, 1897, he paid a 
flying visit to Stellenbosch. Arriving, 
unexpectedly to all except Isie, at the 
Krige home on the 29th, he suddenly 
disclosed his plans for getting married. 
"I am down here on brief business and 
Isie and I would like to get married," 



he told my grandfather. "The day after 
tomorrow I have to leave for the 
Transvaal again. We would like to get 
married tomorrow, failing which Isie 
will have to come up by train to marry 
me." The old man said it was all very 
sudden, but having visions of possibly 
having to accompany his daughter up 
to Johannesburg, he decided that the 
next day it should be, and made 
arrangements accordingly. On the 30th 
Isie and Jan were quietly married 
before Professor J. F. Marais, and on 
the following day the couple entrained 
for Johannesburg. They set up house 
on the spot now occupied by Ingram's 
Pharmacy at the corner of Twist and 
Coetzee Streets, on Hospital Hill. 
Johannesburg was then small, with 
houses dispersed about the veld, and 
my mother lived in such mortal fear of 
natives that when my father was away 



at his office she carefully locked all 
the doors. In the Cape she had come 
across only the Cape Coloureds. Their 
first visitor in Johannesburg was 
Daniel Francois Malan, boyhood 
friend from Riebeeck West. Later they 
moved to new apartments in Buxton 
Street, Doornfontein. Here premature 
twins were born to them in 1898, but 
the infants survived but a few weeks. 

Meanwhile all was not well in 
Kruger's house in the Transvaal. He 
had grouped about him numerous 
incompetent relatives and friends and 
there was much criticism of his 
appointment of Hollanders to high 
offices. Graft and corruption were 
considerable, but Kruger, though not 
personally implicated, shut his eyes to 
it. For small favours he was in the 
habit of granting concessions. One 
was the dynamite concession to 



Lippert that angered the mining 
community of Johannesburg so much. 
Others were connected with the 
Hatherly Distillery, Selati Railway and 
mining concessions. 

Kruger ruled despotically by 
"resolution", and few records were 
kept in government offices. He was 
now in his seventy-fourth year and the 
fact that he had the most painful 
affliction of in growing eyelashes did 
little to improve his humour. His auto- 
cratic rule brought him into constant 
collision with the Supreme Court, and 
as the resolutions increased in number 
so did the disagreement. When Mr. 
Justice Kotze ruled a grondwet case, 
involving over £300,000, in favour of 
a mining company, Kruger was 
wrathful. Kotze was dismissed. 

The country was scandalised and 
hardly a supporter for Kruger could be 



found. My father was just then about 
to step into the most interesting case 
he had yet undertaken, the defence of 
the notorious von Veltheim, who had 
shot Woolf Joel, nephew of Barney 
Barnato. He dropped this case at once, 
for he saw in the Kruger controversy a 
much more important issue. He 
stepped in to uphold the President in a 
very cleverly devised document, 
quoting at length from the Roman 
Dutch Law, in which he probably had 
no peer in the country at the time. The 
sum of his argument really showed 
only that the President was not neces- 
sarily wrong. The document met with 
much hostility from the legal 
fraternity; but it impressed the 
President. There can be no doubt of 
my father's sincerity in interfering in 
this Kotze dispute, for he disapproved 



strongly of the man's "meddling in 
politics". 

Meanwhile Dr. Leyds, 8 big, genial, 
blond, had resigned as State Secretary 
to take up a diplomatic appointment, 
to which his charms were eminently 
suited. Abraham Fischer refused to ex- 
change Bloemfontein for Pretoria, and 
so for a while, before the appointment 
of ex-President F.W. Reitz, father of 
Deneys, the post was vacant. One of 
the names mentioned in the press for 
that vacancy had been that of my 
father. There were, however, obstacles 
in the way, in that he was still two 
years too young to sit in the Executive 



8 Dr. in. J. Leyds (1859-1940) was Attorney- 
General of the South African Republic in 
1881. He was later appointed plenipotentiary 
of the Republic in Europe. 



Committee; moreover he was not a 
burgher of the Republic. 

Shortly afterwards Dr. J. Coster, the 
State Attorney, a Hollander, resigned 
after serious differences with the 
President. The name of Jan Smuts was 
mentioned as a possible successor. 
Here a friend, Henri Malan, came to 
my father's help by introducing him to 
Kruger's young nephew Piet Grobler, 
who was also his private secretary. 
Grobler took my father along one 
morning and introduced him to the 
President, remarking diplomatically 
that he would make a good State 
Attorney. Kruger was taken aback at 
the boyish looks of the young man 
before him, but he needed in the 
Transvaal young men who were both 
naturally clever and highly educated. 
Jan Smuts was also a young Afrikaner 



from the Cape - that was all in his 
favour. 

My father secured the appointment. 
On the 2nd June the Star remarked, 
"Though he may have all the 
precociousness of a Pitt, we still 
consider that twenty-eight is rather too 
young an age for the State Attorney of 
the South African Republic." 

One of the nicest letters of 
congratulation upon his appointment 
was from D. F. Malan. 

"I might have hesitated", my father 
wrote subsequentiy, "to undertake 
such a tremendous responsibility as 
that office entails, for I was conscious, 
not only of my youth and failings, not 
only of the temptations of power, but 
especially of the tempests which the 
State would have to weather probably 
during my term of office. I thought 



that I might yet be able to help the 
great cause of reconciliation 

Kruger had given my father his chance 
in life. He seized it with zest. Though 
their collaboration was destined to be 
of limited duration, a firm friendship 
grew up between these two opposite 
types, Kruger old, stolid and bigoted, 
my father youthful, brilliant and 
idealistic. From the first, Kruger liked 
this young man, and in the days that 
followed he saw his value and leaned 
upon his judgment. The relationship, 
he said, was as "between a father and 
his son". 

"When long afterwards I asked the 
President what had induced him to 
offer so important a post to an 
inexperienced, unknown youth like 
me," my father said, "he replied 
laughingly, because he had heard that 
my wife was much better than I" 



He eulogised my father as "one of the 
cleverest lawyers in South Africa and 
a man of versatile attainments besides. 
He is personally a very simple man 
and to meet him one would not suspect 
that he possessed so iron a will or so 
determined a character... Smuts will 
yet play a great part in the future of 
South Africa." 

The office of State Attorney was not a 
political one, for the Attorney was not 
a member of the Executive Council 
and only addressed them by request, or 
in explanation or elucidation of Bills. 
To legalise my father's appointment, 
Kruger created him a second-class 
burgher. 

The new job was beset with a hundred 
and one personal little difficulties, "but 
these", my father wrote, "were as 
nothing compared to the intrigue by 
which I was surrounded, by political 



and official enemies, by liquor 
syndicates, scheming concessionaires 
and powerful evildoers in high places. 
At times I was so completely worn out 
by this increasing intrigue and 
persecution that I would have thrown 
up the sponge were it not for the 
unfaltering support of the President, 
who was aware of the magnitude of 
the forces arrayed against me." 



11 : UlTLANDERS 

My father's position as State Attorney 
in the Kruger Government was an 
interesting if peculiar one. All around 
were corruption and maladminis- 
tration, these mostly sprouting 
indirectly from the presidential front. 
It was, therefore, a matter of delicacy 
to know just where to tackle matters or 
how far to go. My father said as much 
to Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, the leader of 
the Uitlanders, when the latter came to 
complain about the state of affairs. 
One of my father's first actions, in 
face of considerable opposition in the 
Volksraad, was to sack Bob Ferguson, 
the head of the C.I.D., who, he said, 
was a "particularly smart man, singu- 
larly unsuccessful in getting at 
criminals". He took on the department 
himself. 



"I succeeded", my father wrote, "in 
clearing out the Augean Stable of the 
corrupt Detective Administration and 
established in its stead a system which 
has worked with admirable results." 
Strangely enough, Bob Ferguson 
seemed to bear him no ill-will. 

The Raid had done much to bolster 
Kruger' s waning prestige with his 
countrymen. The young German 
Emperor William II congratulated him 
on quelling the Raid without external 
assistance. Outside interference was 
further consolidating his position. 

My father's recollections of Kruger 
were vivid, for the old man made a 
deep impression on him. I have at 
times heard him describe the President 
as the "greatest" of all Afrikaners. 
Clearly he did not really mean the 
greatest statesman, but the most 
colourful character or personality. For 



Kruger was indeed unique in his, 
ancient ruggedness, and might fittingly 
have stepped back into the days of 
Abraham or Joshua. 

Of his personal integrity my father 
was never in doubt. True, the old man 
was not averse to stretching a point, 
but he was never amenable to 
professional graft. It was his 
surroundings that were rotten, but he 
was too old and weary to deal with the 
problem. 

In June, 1898, my parents went to live 
in Pretoria, taking a house in 
Sunnyside on the corner of Walker and 
Buite (now Bourke) Streets. Here in 
April of the following year, a son was 
born to them, who died eighteen 
months later when my father was 
fighting in the Western Transvaal. 



Meanwhile international relations 
between the President and Britain 
were steadily worsening. Rhodes 
effectively controlled the English- 
speaking press of South Africa, and 
the Uitlanders' grievances and 
countless small points of friction were 
magnified out of all proportion. 
Rhodes, like Milner, was determined 
to force the war issue by any means. 
The 20,000 Uitlanders petitioned 
Queen Victoria to come to their 
assistance in the Transvaal. The papers 
condemned the "warmongers" Kruger 
and Smuts. Once and for all the 
Uitlander Question must be solved. As 
the English author A.M.S. Methuen 
wrote, "The South African press 
became a manufactory of outrages" 
against the Republic. 

That the Uitlanders, many of them no 
more than gentlemen of adventure, had 



genuine grievances is only too patent. 
There was the amazing neglect of the 
teaching of English in schools, even 
though the Uitlanders contributed 90 
per cent of the fees for education. 
There was the appalling state of the 
sanitary arrangements of Johannes- 
burg; and there were the irritating 
monopolies, more especially the 
iniquitous dynamite concession grant- 
ed to Lippert. All this was added to 
and distorted out of all reason by 
Rhodes and his clique. Uitlander E. B. 
Rose condemned the propaganda "as 
part and parcel of the crusade of 
calumny upon the Boers, having for its 
object eventual British intervention 
and destruction of Boer indepen- 
dence". 

The Uitlanders demanded citizenship 
rights and privileges, yet refused to 
renounce their nationality and become 



Transvaal burghers. They declined to 
serve in the Defence Force or to con- 
tribute towards its upkeep. As my 
father remarked, they were there 
simply to make money. 

Meanwhile Kruger was going ahead 
with his proposed extension of the 
dynamite concession. The Uitlanders 
raised their voices in wrath at this half- 
a-million-pound racket. Milner 
protested. Conyugham Greene, the 
British Agent, says that the attitude of 
my father and others was defiant 
because they believed that the Imperial 
Government would threaten but not 
act. 

The arrest of five prominent people in 
Johannesburg on charges of treason 
did little to soothe ruffled feelings, 
even though the charges were later 
dropped as unfounded. A warrant for 
the arrest of two British journalists in 



Johannesburg, Moneypenny of the 
Star and Pakenham of the Transvaal 
Leader, was issued because of the 
"flagrant and provocative untruths" 
they were publishing. Little except 
worsened feelings came of this. 

From London Dr. Leyds cabled a word 
of warning on May 15: "England has 
now everywhere a free hand. I doubt if 
anybody will do anything for us." A 
fortnight later he cabled from Berlin, 
"Minister of Foreign Affairs says 
Germany still friendly to South 
African Republic, but cannot assist in 
case of war because England is master 
of the seas. Hope South African 
Republic will concede, as much as is 
consistent with independence." 

In the Cape Milner adopted a firmer 
attitude towards any show of sympa- 
thy with the north. He sent naval units 
round the coast to Durban. The Cape 



was not unmindful of the warning of 
its Governor. 

Another unfortunate incident now 
occurred in Johannesburg when an 
Uitlander named Edgar was shot dead 
by a Republic policeman after a brawl. 
Opinion was divided on the provo- 
cation for the use of firearms in this 
case, and the policeman Jones was 
fined £300 in a court of law. Such a 
cry went up that my father ordered a 
retrial, in which Jones got off. This 
was nearly the last straw. The people 
were sick and tired of the bullying 
methods of the "Zarps" (police). Meet- 
ings of protest were held and there was 
a minor clash in Johannesburg. 



12 : Dark Clouds 

Alfred Milner appeared on the 
scene after the Jameson Raid, and as 
Britain's senior representative was 
destined to play a decisive part in the 
storms that followed. He graduated 
brilliantly from Balliol. From his 
German father he had inherited a 
strong streak of ruthlessness, from his 
Irish mother a certain perversity. He 
was a determined and capable man. 
There is reason to believe that he came 
to South Africa with the fixed idea of 
Forcing the Boer issue. How, did not 
really matter, for he had little 
sympathy with the Boers. If he was 
not contemptuous of them, he certain- 
ly distrusted them. 

Britain had therefore, either by design 
or accident, exported to South Africa 
the most dangerous man she could 
possibly have chosen. Biographers 



have generally been kind to the Alfred 
Milner of this period, but he stands 
revealed before history by his own 
Papers. In the worsening conditions 
that followed, it was not the Boers 
who were spoiling for a fight, certainly 
not the Boer Government, but Milner 
himself, who was determined to bring 
matters to a head and to crush the 
Republics. To this same idea he grad- 
ually converted Joseph Chamberlain. 
Though the problems of the day at first 
appeared to centre round gold and the 
Uitlander grievances, these merely 
camouflaged the broader intention of 
outright annexation. Kruger and my 
father saw the problem approaching. 
The attitude they adopted towards 
Britain was hostile only in the abstract 
sense. They were not foolish enough 
to want a war against the greatest 



Empire in the world, with her almost 
inexhaustible resources. 

I have on numerous occasions heard 
my father discuss in private conver- 
sation the part played by Milner in the 
months before the war. He always 
discussed this subject purely as a 
historian, without any trace of rancour 
and with complete detachment and 
absence of bias. He was also, quite 
obviously, speaking as the greatest 
living authority on the subject. He 
never had any doubts that Milner was 
determined to provoke the war. No 
compromise would have satisfied him 
short of complete surrender of sover- 
eignty. Milner was the guilty party; 
Joseph Chamberlain was only his 
gullible henchman. 

Had Chamberlain himself come out to 
South Africa in 1899, instead of in 
1903, and seen conditions at first 



hand, instead of through the biased 
eyes of Milner, my father felt certain 
that war would have been averted. 
Contentious topics such as this, how- 
ever, he always said were better left to 
the historians. The facts were so well 
established that there was little he 
could now add to guide historians. 
Needless to say, he was an encyclo- 
paedia on the inside stories of events 
of the last fifty years. The failure to 
write his memoirs, which we all urged 
him to undertake, was a loss to history. 

Sir William Butler, who acted while 
Milner was away in England for a 
while, did his best to patch up things. 
He lost no opportunity of warning his 
home government that Milner was 
misleading them. But Chamberlain, 
under the spell of Milner, turned a deaf 
ear. Nor did he heed the mounting 
voice of the Liberal Opposition. 



Campbell-Bannerman's and Lloyd 
George's words fell on deaf ears. 
Catastrophe was fast approaching. 

So the two governments availed them- 
selves of the good offers of the Free 
State Government to hold a Con- 
ference in Bloemfontein. This Confer- 
ence, which lasted a week, started on 
30th May, 1899, and was attended by 
Milner, assisted by his aide Hanbury- 
Williams and secretary, Lord Bel- 
grave, and three clerical assistants, on 
the one side, and Kruger, Schalk Bur- 
ger, Wolmarans and my father on the 
other. Abraham Fischer acted as inter- 
preter. Sir William Butler did not view 
the prospects of the Conference with 
optimism. He distrusted Milner as 
much as he did Rhodes. Some while 
earlier he had remarked: "All political 
questions in South Africa and nearly 
all information sent from Cape Town 



to England, are now being worked 
by... a colossal syndicate for the 
spread of systematic misrepresenta- 
tion." 

Nor did the Conference make an 
auspicious start, for at a reception 
given by President Steyn of the 
Orange Free State, Milner pointedly 
refused to shake the outstretched hand 
of Kruger who came to greet him. This 
little incident typified Milner' s attitude 
at the Conference which followed. He 
had not come here to bargain, but to 
dictate. He is said to have greeted my 
father with civility. Perhaps he thought 
this might win the young man over 
and make him more pliable. But as the 
days progressed be was to find that 
this spirited young man could not be 
swayed. Milner demanded far-reach- 
ing franchise rights for the Uitlanders, 
but Kruger pointed out that this was 



unreasonable as was burghers would 
be out-voted by two to one. "If we 
give them the franchise we may as 
well give up the Republic," he said. 
But demand mounted on demand and 
Kruger, getting more and more harass- 
ed, refused each with increasing 
irritation. My father, however, did not 
lose his equanimity; he was constantly 
at Kruger's elbow to restrain and 
advise. He felt it a grave responsibility 
not to fail Kruger or his friends at this 
hour, and it was soon apparent that it 
was my father, and not Kruger, whom 
Milner had to deal with. The young 
man kept on bobbing up so frequently 
to whisper to Kruger, that Milner 
began to grow exasperated. 

Much as he disliked doing so, my 
father preached compromise at this 
stage. The odds were too great to 
permit the Conference to break down 



before every possible effort at settle- 
ment had been explored. The Republic 
were now prepared to bring the 
qualifying period for complete fran- 
chise down to seven years. Milner 
flatly rejected it. So the haggling went 
on, Kruger getting more and more 
weary. At last he could stand it no 
longer: "It is my country that you 
want," he cried. "It is our indepen- 
dence you are taking away." He refer- 
red with feeling to the stream of 
British army reinforcements that were 
pouring into the country. "I am not 
ready to hand over my country to 
strangers," he concluded. That was his 
final word, and on this inconclusive, 
but disturbing, note the Conference 
broke up. It had been unsatisfactory in 
every respect, and my father remarked 
later to Piet Grobler, "It is perfectly 



clear to me that Milner is planning to 
make war." 

Milner says in his diary that he arrived 
at the Bloemfontein Conference with 
the intention of being friendly and co- 
operative. But as the Conference 
progressed he grew to dislike Kruger 
and his henchmen. He did, however, 
make a note in his diary about 
"Kruger' s brilliant State Attorney". 

The Republic was meanwhile thinking 
things over carefully. On August 19 
Kruger wrote that he was prepared to 
concede the Uitlanders a five years' 
residential franchise. This was actually 
what Milner had initially demanded. 
Joseph Chamberlain rejected the offer. 

On his return from Bloemfontein my 
father saw but one further ray of hope. 
Perhaps informal discussions with 
Conyngham Greene, the British Agent 



in Pretoria, might show a way out. 
These lasted from 12th July till 28th 
August and were to end in failure, but 
a sincere effort had been made by both 
Greene and my father to explore 
hopeful channels. These discussions 
were subsequently the centre of a 
controversy. Several meetings occurr- 
ed and there was some correspondence 
all of which is set out by my father in 
a Government Green Book. 

From this it is clear that there could 
never have been any doubt in Greene's 
mind that my father was acting 
privately without mandate from his 
Government and that the talks were 
purely exploratory. Greene, no doubt 
under diplomatic pressure, after nego- 
tiations had broken down denied that 
he was aware of this. My father said 
that he was certain that he could obtain 
from the Volksraad seats for ten 



Uitlander members for Johannesburg 
and Barberton in the Government. The 
Volksraad confirmed their readiness to 
do this. Greene was friendly and well- 
disposed towards my father, and it is 
certain that the breakdown of the 
negotiations was engineered under 
instruction from superior authority and 
did not originate from Greene. In his 
final note to Greene my father said, "I 
do not believe that there is the slightest 
chance that these terms will be altered 
or amplified. Your decision will there- 
fore have to be arrived at on these 
terms as they stand." President M.T. 
Steyn sent a last desperate message of 
peace to Britain through the High 
Commissioner, but to no avail. 

On September 22 Chamberlain sever- 
ed diplomatic relations with the Trans- 
vaal. My father drafted an ultimatum 
to Great Britain on October 9 request- 



ing "Immediate withdrawal of Her 
Majesty's forces". "Kruger", wrote 
W.T. Stead in the Review of Reviews, 
"would have been a traitor to his own 
people if he had not launched the 
ultimatum." 

"God alone knows how deeply I 
wished, how hard I worked that peace 
might be maintained," my father wrote 
in his diary. "In the teeth of the most 
violent opposition and of the bitterest 
calumny, I succeeded in inducing the 
Executive Council and the Volksraad 
to accept the five years' franchise 
scheme of Sir A. Milner, with addi- 
tional clauses as to parliamentary 
representation which made it even 
more liberal than the original propo- 
sal... I was prepared to sacrifice my 
position, myself, even to compromise 
the dignity and honour of the 
Republic." 




The Boer War 



13 : Boer War 

There now appeared a Boer manifesto 
entitled Century of Wrong. It was an 
exhortation to the people on the eve of 
battle, listing the wrongs perpetrated 
by the British in South Africa during 
the past hundred years. It was written 
by my father in High Dutch, from 
facts he and Jimmie Roos had col- 
lected. The language was said by 
experts to be superb Netherlands and it 
abounded in classical idiom. My 
mother translated it into English. As 
the manifesto appeared over no name 
and as it was published by State 
Secretary Reitz, he was at first thought 
to be the author. 

It is said that in after years my father 
was ashamed of this hot-headed little 
manifesto. That is not so, for how can 
exception be taken to it if the purpose 
of this document is taken into account. 



True, he never spoke about it, but that 
was because he was sick of the politi- 
cal use that was made of it, and of 
having its anti-English quotations cast 
at him. It was simply a shrill, clear 
bugle-call to the nation, and it is unfair 
to quote it out of its context or historic 
setting. 

Many were subsequently to forget that 
Britain had made amends for this 
unhappy century. Politicians in South 
Africa make the past die hard. My 
father's message was always for the 
future. So, in fact, was Kruger's; he 
had said, "Take only what is good out 
of the past." 

On the way from Irene to our bushveld 
farm the road passed two spots which 
never failed to awaken in my father 
old memories of the Boer War, and he 
would then reminisce about these stir- 
ring times. The one spot was where 



the road crossed the low concrete 
causeway over the Boekenhout Spruit, 
the other was the view of the gap 
through the mountains near Premier 
Mine, known to the Boers as 
Donkerhoek and to the British as 
Diamond Hill. For it was at Diamond 
Hill that some of the heaviest fighting 
occurred, and it was the Boekenhout 
Spruit down which my father passed 
on his way to the Western Transvaal at 
the start of the guerrilla phase of the 
war after the fall of Pretoria. A careful 
plan for the conduct of the war had 
been drawn up by the Republic, he 
told me. The strategy briefly was for 
the Boers to strike down swiftly at 
Durban and the other ports upon the 
outbreak of hostilities, in order to 
prevent the British landing rein- 
forcements. That phase completed, the 
mopping up of troops in the country 



would begin. The Boers felt convinced 
that in these circumstances Britain 
would be prepared to make an early 
peace rather than be involved in a long 
and costly war. The Transvaal had 
concluded a mutual assistance pact 
with the Free State Republic, the 
general state of arming of the Boers 
was satisfactory, and they were all 
well-trained hunters and marksmen. 
There was also the understanding that 
their countrymen of the Cape would be 
sympathetic, if not helpful, and that 
some reinforcements might come from 
there. 

The Boer commandos of the two 
Republics were mobilised in good 
time, and before the ultimatum to 
Britain expired a vast mounted force 
was already gathered on the Natal 
border at Sandspruit, under Comman- 
dant-General Piet Joubert. 



Well led, this force might, by a 
lightning stroke, have produced 
decisive results. The fly in the 
ointment, however, was the age and 
decrepitude of this hoary old general, 
and his conservative and passive 
outlook on military matters. My father 
described him as already passe at that 
time, and "hopelessly incompetent". 
True, the old veteran had in his day 
had considerable successes in the 
Kaffir wars, but against resourceful 
adversaries such as the British he was 
out of his depth. 

The Boers entered Natal in two 
columns, one under General Lukas 
Meyer and the other under General 
Joubert. The war started off with a 
heartening series of victories for the 
Boers. Meyer decisively defeated 
General Penn-Symon's forces at 
Talana Hill, and Joubert routed Gene- 



rals White and French at Nicholson's 
Nek, taking 400 prisoners, but inex- 
plicably failing to pursue the broken 
foe. When remonstrated with, he is 
reported to have remarked, "It would 
be barbarous to pursue a beaten Chris- 
tian foe." The British forces withdrew 
into the perimeter of Ladysmith where, 
instead of by-passing it and pressing 
on to the coast, the Boers were delayed 
by a long and fruitless siege, for it was 
not strongly garrisoned and tactically 
of minor importance. The error at 
Ladysmith, my father felt, probably 
cost the Boers the war. 

The concentration of Boer forces on 
the hills around Ladysmith left the 
ports clear and the British rushed in a 
steady stream of reinforcements. 

General Buller's earlier attempts at the 
relief of Ladysmith led to his defeats 
at Colenso and Spion Kop. Methuen 




Ladysmith 



was trounced by Cronje and de la Rey 
at Modder River, and Gatacre, sent to 
Burghersdorp to check the raiding 
Free State commandos, was repulsed 
by Grobler at Stormberg. Woolhope 
was defeated by Cronje at Magers- 
fontein. He himself was killed and a 
battalion of the Black Watch virtually 
wiped out. 

The avalanche of reverses shocked and 
dismayed the British nation. It was 
many a year since there had been such 
a bleak series of disasters. But rein- 
forcements were pouring in and new 
hope was centred in the two crack 
generals, Lord Roberts of Kandahar, 
the Commander-in-Chief, and Lord 
Kitchener of Khartoum, his Chief of 
Staff, who had been sent post-haste to 
stem the tide and to take over from 
Britain's aged Zulu War V.C., General 
Redvers Buller. 



A British train returning from a recon- 
naissance was captured between Frere 
and Chievely on 15th November, 
1899. Amongst the prisoners was the 
young correspondent of the Morning 
Post, Winston Spencer Churchill. His 
captor was Commandant Louis Botha. 
The "defiant young man", my father 
recounted, was brought before him 
looking "dishevelled and most 
indignant and claiming immunity as a 
non-combatant. It was pointed out, 
however, that he was carrying a pistol 
when captured and so he was sent on 
detention to Pretoria." The story of 
Mr. Churchill's subsequent escape to 
Lourenco Marques is well known. I 
heard him recount it at Chequers forty- 
five years after the event, and was 
amazed at the wealth of place names 
and detail he still remembered. Here, 
too, I heard my father tell Mr. 



Churchill an aspect of the story of 
which he had not previously been 
aware. It appears that my father had 
developed quite a liking for the high- 
spirited young man he had interro- 
gated, and so, some days afterwards, 
he persuaded General Joubert that 
there was not much point in detaining 
him, for he was, after all, a newspaper 
correspondent and his infringement 
had only been a technical one. His 
release was, therefore, authorised, but 
before it could be put into effect he 
had escaped. Mr. Churchill was 
delighted to hear this, for he realised 
that by doing so he had doubly 
outwitted his adversaries. 

Attached to the Boer forces was 
another British correspondent repre- 
senting The Times, Leo S. Amery, 
through the long years to become 
another firm friend of my father's. 



When things went badly for the Boers 
they grew suspicious of this corres- 
pondent, be it added quite without 
reason, and sitting one night in his tent 
Mr. Amery heard himself discussed in 
unfriendly terms. He took the hint and 
discreetly departed. 

Meanwhile General Joubert had died 
and Louis Botha had taken over 
supreme command. The change, 
though it infused new hope in the Boer 
forces, came too late to have decisive 
results. 

During these days my father was kept 
extremely busy not only running the 
Government in Pretoria and seeing to 
security measures, but also paying 
frequent visits to the front. From there 
he would bring back to the Govern- 
ment first-hand reports of the fighting. 
He carried out these inspections 
because he saw the urgent need for 



hurry, and was forever infusing 
urgency into the torpid old Boer 
generals who would not bother about 
his exhortations. 

At last the British were ready. An 
overpowering mass of men had been 
assembled on South African soil. 
Roberts struck, and soon Kimberley, 
Mafeking and Ladysmith had been 
relieved. Cronje was encircled at 
Paardeberg and capitulated with 3,700 
men. This was the first big Boer 
disaster, but was merely a foretaste of 
what was to follow. On 13th March, 
1900, Bloemfontein fell and General 
French pushed on with his armada of 
1,000 wagons on the heels of the 
retreating commandos. The flat plains 
of the Free State and the 
overwhelming nature of the opposition 
gave the Boers no chance of a stand. 
President Steyn and General Christian 



de Wet were slowly rolled backwards 
towards the Transvaal. From the Natal 
side, too, Botha and de la Rey were 
falling back towards Pretoria. 

Deneys Reitz says that after the initial 
Boer successes in Natal, the troops in 
the field had hoped that Britain might 
be prepared to call the war off as she 
had done after her reverse at Amajuba 
in the Anglo-Boer War of 1881; but 
his father, ex-President Reitz of the 
Free State, told him it was a vain hope. 
The older man was right: this time 
Britain had sustained grievous losses, 
and she was determined, once and for 
all, to see this struggle through to its 
bitter end. 

Behind the retreating Boers came 
slowly and relentlessly the long 
columns from Britain. Even when they 
were out of view their presence could 



readily be detected by the great clouds 
of red dust on the horizon. 

The Boers' golden opportunity had 
come and gone. After Natal it was to 
be for them, with few exceptions, a 
long and depressing war of retreat, 
always vastly outgunned, hopelessly 
outnumbered, and relentlessly pursued 
by the massive columns. As an epic of 
struggle against overwhelming odds 
this war has few equals, and to many it 
has always been a source of 
amazement that any semblance 
whatever of morale remained. Yet the 
two years that were to follow proved 
that it had survived. 



14 : Pretoria Falls 

It was on the hills to the north of 
Pretoria that the Boers were to make 
their final stand. Perhaps it would be 
appropriate to quote here from a brief 
account written in English by my 
father shortly after the war: 

This Magaliesberg was destined soon 
to be the scene of the biggest battle 
fought by the Boer forces after the 
great actions on the Tugela and the 
Modder River, and was thereafter, in 
consequence of the activity of de la 
Rey and his lieutenants, to become one 
of the most famous theatres of the war 
in South Africa. 

It is impossible to contemplate this 
bleak and uninviting and apparently 
insignificant mountain range, the silent 
and grim spectator of so much in the 



history of Southern Africa, without 
melancholy emotion. 

Rising like a bastion on the lower 
slopes of the Highveld, it looks on the 
South at the smiling grassy plains and 
uplands of the Highveld and on the 
North at the endless dreary prospect of 
the lowveld bush. And with the same 
cold callous look which it wears today 
it has regarded the beautiful valleys 
North and South along its slopes occu- 
pied and cultivated by successive races 
of men. It saw the nation of the 
Magatese grow up here in comparative 
peace until it was the greatest Bantu 
people in the Transvaal and it took its 
name from Mamagali, Great Chief of 
this people. It saw the Magatese power 
broken and annihilated by the Zulu 
armies under Moselekatze who cleared 
the whole country North of the Orange 
River in order to found on its ruins a 



kingdom of his own. And where the 
Magatese bones were bleaching in the 
sun it saw an endless chain of Zulu 
kraals and fortifications arising, 
stretching from a point North of 
Pretoria to the confines of the Kalahari 
desert, which can still be seen today. It 
saw in turn the Zulu power smashed in 
1837 by the Emigrant Boers in the 
great actions at Mosega and Maricos- 
poort and this Attila of Central South 
Africa flee for refuge Northward to the 
territory of the former glorious 
kingdom of Monomotapa, where a 
renewed career of conquest was only 
to lead to the melancholy fate of his 
people under his son and successor 
Lobengula. It saw the country all 
around converted into one of the most 
beautiful and fertile parts of South 
Africa, and Boer and Magatese 
enjoying the fruits of peace in a land 



of plenty for more than 80 years. And 
now it was to see the curtain rise on 
the most tragic spectacle of all, and a 
fresh tide of racial war sweep over 
these fair regions and convert them 
into ruin and desolation such as even 
the ruthless barbarians of Moselekatze 
had failed to effect. 

The fall of Pretoria forms in many 
respects a turning point in the history 
of the war. 

Since the retreat from the Modder 
River and Tugela, victory had but 
seldom and then very briefly smiled 
ou the Boer arms. It was everlastingly 
retreat; retreat - wearying, dispiriting 
retreat. At every stage of the retreat the 
Boer cause became more hopeless, the 
Boer army smaller in numbers, and the 
Boer resources more exhausted. 
Pretoria - that holy of holies of the 
Republic in South Africa - was 



generally expected to mark a decisive 
stage of the war; to the British 
commanders the expected final stand 
at Pretoria and its capture seemed to 
be the coup de grace to the Republics; 
to the Boer rank and file it appeared in 
advance as the great Armageddon 
where the Boer force, concentrated 
from all points of the compass in 
defence of their central stronghold, 
would deliver that final united blow 
from which perhaps the British forces 
might be sent reeling back to the coast. 
Perhaps and perhaps not; at any rate 
the action there would be decisive and 
thousands of burghers stuck to their 
commandos in the course of this 
disastrous retreat simply because they 
believed that the decisive battle would 
be fought at Pretoria, and at that battle 
they were determined to be present. 



They did not know that in the inner 
circle of their Government it had 
already been decided to abandon 
Pretoria without a serious resistance 
and that the hope of those who saw 
furthest and thought deepers in the 
Boer cause was not in the fortified 
town but on the illimitable veld. Paul 
Kruger and his advisers saw quite 
clearly that a siege of Pretoria would 
be of but brief duration and inevitably 
fatal to the Boer cause. And there is no 
doubt that they were right; if the Boers 
had staked their last chalice on the 
defence of Pretoria, the war would 
have been over in June or July of 
1900, at any rate so far as the 
Transvaal was concerned. 

A prolongation of the war was of 
course undesirable, but it was a better 
alternative than early and final defeat 
at Pretoria. And so it happened that, 



while the Boer forces were still falling 
back on the forts and fortifications of 
Pretoria, many with a strange hope 
born of faith in their cause, the 
Republican Government had already 
left the place and had moved on to 
Middelburg on the Delagoa railway 
line. 

This happened some days before the 
actual fall of Pretoria. During the day 
telegrams had arrived to the effect that 
Boksburg was threatened or taken, that 
Germiston had been taken, and that a 
large mounted body of the enemy was 
moving rapidly on in the direction of 
Pretoria. In the course of the afternoon 
driblets of alarmist news came; first 
one and then another and then yet 
another station on the road to Pretoria, 
was reported to have been reached by 
an advanced British force, and it was 
feared that a forced march would bring 



the enemy to the capital that same 
night. The Boer forces were still 
beyond Johannesburg and nothing 
could be heard from them. Here 
evidently was a case for swift 
decision. The President called a 
meeting of the Executive at his house 
late that afternoon where it was 
decided that he with the State 
Secretary and some other prominent 
officials should leave that same night 
for Middelburg; and to prevent the 
sudden departure attracting too much 
attention it was decided that he should 
go out by cart by the Eastern road and 
take the train in the direction of 
Koedoespoort. It was further decided 
that Schalk Burger and myself should 
remain behind to represent the 
Government and maintain order at the 
capital. 



As soon as the Government had left 
that night and while the alarmist news 
about the rapid advance of the British 
was still spreading consternation, we 
started to take steps to prevent the 
town from falling bloodlessly into 
their hands that night. Orders were 
given for the commandeering of every 
available burgher in the town and 
between 9 and 10 that night we left 
Pretoria with a motley crowd of about 
400 or 500 men in the direction of 
Irene to intercept the advance of the 
invaders. 

Schalk Burger unfortunately became 
ill that night and could not accompany 
us but we had the veteran Lukas 
Meyer to lead us to battle. We held the 
hills sloping down to Six Mile Sprint 
with anxious determination and were 
not a little relieved when morning 
came without the dreaded foe. 



We then returned to town and sent 
forward scouts to look for the enemy. 
The alarm proved to have been a false 
one as the British had not advanced 
beyond Rietfontein Station and had 
gone back from there towards evening. 

Ridiculous as the whole affair may 
appear, it must not be forgotten that a 
night march such as was over and over 
again performed by the British 
columns in the later stages of the war 
would have brought them to Pretoria 
that night and that but for the show of 
resistance which would have come 
from us they might have captured 
Pretoria without firing a shot. 

At that time Pretoria still held all our 
reserve money and all our reserve 
ammunition, and the ignominy of such 
a bloodless capture would have been 
only equalled by its disastrous 
effects... 



The days that followed were a most 
anxious time; the Government had left 
Schalk Burger and myself behind to 
represent them but had unfortunately 
omitted to confer on us any special 
authority. 

My colleague immediately thereafter 
left Pretoria to take his family to 
Lydenburg and I was left behind alone 
with such authority as the law confers 
on the State Attorney in ordinary 
peaceful times. I had to contradict the 
wild rumours which the sudden 
disappearance of the Government had 
given rise to, and I had to maintain 
order; while to add to my misfortunes 
my authority did not remain 
unquestioned and a rival started up in 
the shape of a so-called "rust en orde" 
committee of which the Burgomaster 
Piet Potgieter and the Chief Justice 
Gregorowski formed prominent 



members. This committee consisted of 
those patriots who had during the 
coarse of the war come to conceive a 
horror of warfare in general and of 
heavy artillery in particular; as they 
were not in the know and were under 
the impression that Pretoria was going 
to be defended with determination, 
their principal anxiety was to devise 
ways and means to prevent the 
bombardment of the town by an early 
surrender, so that they acquired the 
unenviable name of the "surrender 
committee". Indeed rumour had it that 
there was a strong rivalry in the 
committee between the various 
candidates for the honour of going out 
in a black coat and with a white flag in 
order to surrender the town to Lord 
Roberts. 

Another trouble was the absence of the 
regular police and police officers 



which compelled us to improvise a 
force for the maintenance of order. 
Nor were we quite successful in this, 
for although there was an unusual 
absence of crime, we could not 
prevent the Government stores from 
being broken into by the populace and 
looted in broad daylight. The populace 
at any rate saw no sense in hoarding 
stores for the invaders; and when the 
hungry Boer forces arrived at Pretoria 
some days afterwards they scarcely 
found anything to eat and thousands 
passed with sad hearts and empty 
stomachs through the ungrateful 
capital. 

On the arrival of the Commandant- 
General military authority was at once 
resumed over the town, military 
officers appointed and intriguers and 
the surrender committee cowed into 
inactivity. 



It was towards the end of that eventful 
week that a memorable gathering of 
Boer commanders took place in a 
room at the telegraph offices for the 
purpose of laying before the President 
by telegram the pitiful plight of the 
Boer cause. There were Botha, de la 
Key, Tobias Smuts, Lemmer, Ben 
Viljoen and most of those who had 
either become famous or were still to 
become famous in the following two 
years. After mature consideration that 
gathering submitted to the President 
the tentative suggestion to end the war 
at Pretoria. 

Their motives for doing so were the 
deplorable state of the Boer army 
which had melted away so that scarce 
7,000 could be mustered at Pretoria; 
the certainty of an inglorious ending if 
the war was continued any longer, the 
strong probability of the complete 



devastation of the country and the utter 
hopelessness of achieving any success 
after the losses and defeats of the past. 

I shall never forget the bitter 
humiliation and despondency of that 
awful moment when the stoutest hearts 
and strongest wills in the Transvaal 
army were, albeit but for a moment, to 
sink beneath the tide of our 
misfortune. What all felt so deeply 
was that the fight had gone out of the 
Boers, that the heroes who had stood 
like a stone wall on the Tugela and the 
Modder River, who had stormed Spion 
Kop and Ladysmith and many other 
forlorn hopes, had lost heart and hope, 
had gone home and forsaken their 
officers. It was not Lord Roberts's 
army that they feared, it was the utter 
collapse of the Boer rank and file 
which staggered these great officers. 
And it staggered the iron-willed old 



President also, for his reply was that 
he would consult President Steyn on 
their suggestion. 

This happened on Friday night (1 
June) and on Saturday morning a great 
War Council was to be held to 
consider what further steps were to be 
taken for the defence of Pretoria. In 
the meantime the two Presidents were 
communicating over the telegraph 
wires and the suggestion of the 
Transvaal officers received an answer 
from the Free State President which 
was to have momentous effects on the 
future not only of the war but of the 
Boer people. 

To the despairing cry of the Transvaler 
Steyn replied expressing unalterable 
opposition to peace, practically 
accused the Transvaalers of 
cowardice, pointed out that after they 
had involved the Free State and the 



Colonial rebels in ruin they were now 
to conclude a selfish and disgraceful 
peace as soon as the war had reached 
their borders, and concluded with the 
statement that whatever the 
Transvaalers might do the Free State 
would fight on even if it stood alone to 
the bitter end. 



The telegrams that passed between 
President Kruger's Headquarters and 
my father at Pretoria, my mother 
carefully rolled into wads and secreted 
in the massive brass curtain rods of 
our house, before the British marched 
into Pretoria. These she retrieved 
unharmed after the war and they now 
form part of my father's documents. 

From the siege of Pretoria I still have a 
dozen heavy fragments of shrapnel 
picked up by my mother in our garden 



in Sunnyside, after the British shelling 
of the railway line. 

My mother was in Pretoria at the time 
it fell. She tells of the feverish activity 
that went on at our house which more 
or less became the Boer tactical 
headquarters as the end approached. 
She saw the thousands of British 
troops plod past on their way out. She 
tells of the numerous officers who had 
come in search of something to eat. 
Twice the house was searched, the 
first time by an officer named Hughes 
and next by one Silver. They were 
civil but formal and needless to say 
found nothing. 

My mother had in her possession 200 
golden sovereigns which she feared 
would fall into British hands. When 
they came on their first search she 
dropped the money into the hot water 
boiler of the stove, and all the time the 



search was on she was on tenterhooks 
lest her hoard would melt. As soon as 
the party left she darted to retrieve the 
coins and they were subsequentiy used 
in the detention camp at Maritzburg. 

The fall of Pretoria occurred about a 
week before the battle that was to 
follow. There was still much to do in 
the doomed city as the British 
approached. I quote here from my 
father: 

So dawned Monday - the eventful 4th 
of June. Lord Roberts had reached Six 
Mile Spruit with an enormous force 
which was more than sufficient to 
break the show, of resistance of less 
than 7,000 dispirited and demoralised 
Boers. Between him and Pretoria there 
was only the low line of hills in which 
some of the Pretoria toy forts are 
situated. Meanwhile General French 
had kept in a Northerly direction from 



Krugersdorp and after having crossed 
the Magaliesberg had turned East so 
that in a day's time he would be 
behind the Boer lines and would cut 
off their retreat to the North or attack 
Pretoria from the rear. 

So far as I am aware there was nothing 
memorable about the fight at Pretoria 
and I shall therefore leave its details to 
be dealt with by the historians. All I 
need say and really the only matter of 
importance in connection with the 
fight was that the Boer show of 
resistance completely succeeded in its 
object; which was to keep the British 
out of Pretoria that day and to give the 
officials time to remove the money 
and gold belonging to the Government 
and the vast quantities of reserve 
ammunition, and some guns that were 
still at Pretoria. 



The removal of the money and gold of 
the Government, which was lying at 
the National Bank and in the Mint was 
my special business. I had been in 
friendly negotiations for some days 
with the directors of the bank in order 
to obtain peaceable possession of the 
money and gold of the Government 
which still remained in their custody 
to the value of between 400 and 500 
thousand pounds sterling. When these 
negotiations failed nothing remained 
for me but to issue a warrant for their 
arrest and to threaten them with 
criminal proceedings which proved 
effectual. On the Monday morning the 
directors informed me that if I 
employed force they would consent to 
hand over the gold which was the 
property of the Government. I 
therefore got a special body of about 
50 police, entered the bank, and 



obtained delivery of all the gold in 
question. At the suggestion of General 
Botha I looked for and found further a 
special war fund of £25,000 standing 
to the credit of the Commandant- 
General. After suitably rewarding the 
officials of the Mint for their arduous 
work in coining money for the 
Government during the war I started 
for the station, put all the gold on a 
special train in charge of a reliable 
force of police and had the train 
despatched that Monday afternoon 
while shells were burning all round the 
station and a number of howitzers 
were being vainly used to wreck the 
railway at Sunnyside going East to 
Delagoa Bay. 

So on the Magaliesberg to the north of 
Pretoria the 7,000 Boers took up their 
positions, holding a line mainly to the 
east of the town. The English were 



trying vainly to break through the few 
gaps. For some days a big battle raged 
at one of these, at Diamond Hill, for 
here the British launched their major 
attack. This battle, though critical, at 
first gradually turned in favour of the 
Boers, and my father says that after 
about the fifth day they began to feel 
distinctly hopeful. The weakness in 
the position lay in the fact that the 
Magaliesberg, which here rose 1,000 
feet above the Highveld, gradually 
petered out and merged with the flat 
country some twenty miles north-east, 
near Springs. Very heavy fighting 
went an around Diamond Hill for a 
week. On the farm Kameelfontein, 
which my father bought shortly after 
the war, General Methuen was trapped 
with a thousand men and in desperate 
plight. Relief came in the nick of time. 



The four forts on the heights 
surrounding Pretoria, built under 
contract by Lippert, proved to be, as 
feared, remnants of an antediluvian 
concept of strategy and fell without 
firing a shot. 

The British were now turning their 
attention to the eastern flank held by 
General Tobias Smuts, a distant 
relative. One morning at 2 a.m. Koen 
Brits, his staff officer, burst into the 
tent my father was sharing with 
General Botha at Donkerhoek to the 
east of Pretoria, and told with emotion 
that the enemy had burst through the 
Tobias Smuts sector. So the Boer 
position was outflanked and the whole 
Magaliesberg line rendered untenable. 
Pretoria was finished and with it the 
last hope of large-scale Boer 
resistance. 



In this brief account my father went on 
as follows: 

The history of the Boer War is in 
many respects the history of grave 
strategical blunders, which had 
momentous effects not only on the 
duration but also on the ultimate issue 
of the war. From the British point of 
view the blunder made by Lord 
Roberts in his march to Pretoria was 
probably one of the most momentous 
of the whole war. 

The war was nearly ended at Pretoria 
by the wavering of the officers. 
However, Lord Roberts could not be 
supposed to know the intentions of the 
Boer officers and what he did not 
know cannot enter into the 
consideration of any mistake which he 
did make. But how much did he know 
at this time and what ought he, as a 
prudent commander, to have foreseen? 



He was advancing to Pretoria with an 
enormous army vastly outnumbering 
the Boer forces, he knew that the Boer 
force opposed to his advance was the 
miserably inadequate one which had 
been retiring before him ever since the 
defeat of Cronje, reduced now to a 
skeleton of its former self by continual 
defections from the commandos and 
by the Free State commandos 
remaining within their borders. The 
commandos operating on the Western 
border at Fourteen Streams and 
Mafeking had been ordered to 
Pretoria, but most of them never 
arrived in time and, besides, their 
numbers were comparatively 

insignificant. The Natal commandos 
were still on the Drakensberg to block 
the advance of Buller, and were so 
reduced in number that it was 
impossible for them to spare any 



reinforcements for Pretoria. Lord 
Roberts therefore knew that he had 
only to do with the miserably 
attenuated forces of Botha and de la 
Rey in front of him. 

It might have been foreseen too that 
the Boer line of retreat, if there was to 
be any retreat from Pretoria, was to be 
towards the East so that the Boer 
forces might keep in touch with their 
Government and might continue to 
utilise the Delagoa Railway for 
supplies and communication with the 
outside world. To have retired North 
towards Pietersburg would have been 
an altogether foolish undertaking as 
the unhealthy, sparsely populated and 
poor Bushveld to the North of Pretoria 
could offer no inducement whatever 
for such a step. If the Boer officers 
who met at the telegraph office at the 
meeting already described knew that 



their communications with their 
Government and their line of retreat 
towards the East were cut off or to be 
cut off, and that the only alternative 
was a retreat to the inhospitable 
Bushveld of the North, that might have 
decided their hesitating resolution. 

And even if there was to be no retreat 
from Pretoria Lord Roberts had quite 
sufficient men at his disposal both for 
the siege of Pretoria and for cutting off 
the Boer communications to the East. 
Springs, on the railway line East of 
Boksburg, had been occupied shortly 
after Johannesburg, and, if instead of 
putting French on the left wing and 
making him describe the useless 
detour North of Magaliesberg, he had 
placed him on his right and sent him 
from Springs to Middelburg or 
Balmoral simultaneously with his own 
advance towards Pretoria, Lord 



Roberts would have completely upset 
the Boer plan - which was also the 
obvious plan - for the further 
prosecution of the war and would have 
dealt a staggering if not fatal blow at 
further resistance by the Transvaal. 

If Lord Roberts found it impossible or 
inexpedient to adopt this strategy with 
his own forces, Buller, who was still 
below the Drakensberg should have 
been ordered to carry it out. 

To the Boers the inactivity of Buller in 
the North of Natal seemed 
inexplicable except on the theory, at 
that time generally believed by the 
Boers, that owing to jealousy between 
the two principal officers in the British 
army, Buller' s advance had been 
artificially stayed in order to give his 
rival a chance of first entry into the 
Transvaal. This belief, if unfounded, 
was due to the fact that the dawdling 



and sulking of Buller after the capture 
of Ladysmith could not be explained 
on any other ground known to the 
Boers. The proper thing for Lord 
Roberts was to have allowed or 
ordered Buller to accelerate the snail- 
like pace of his advance, so that when 
Lord Roberts arrived at Pretoria, 
Buller might have been at or far on his 
way towards the Delagoa railway. 

The simultaneous capture of this 
railway either by Buller or a portion of 
Lord Roberts's force would have made 
the fall of Pretoria an event of capital 
if not decisive importance - as Lord 
Roberts intended it to be. Its capture, 
in the manner it was effected by Lord 
Roberts's short-sighted strategy, was 
not only an empty event for the 
British, but turned out to have been a 
blessing in disguise for the Boer 
forces, as the inactivity which 



followed it gave the Boer officers the 
necessary breathing space for the 
reorganisation of their forces and 
consideration of their future plan of 
campaign. 




Smuts 's Route to the Cape 



15 : Expedition Into The Cape 

With the fall of Pretoria yet another 
phase of the war had come to a close. 
The Boer leaders forgathered at Bal- 
moral, near Witbank, to take stock of 
the position, and after deliberation 
decided that it would be impossible to 
continue operating as one big army 
and that they should split up into 
smaller units and operate indepen- 
dently. My father took this proposal 
down to President Kruger at Waterval 
Boven, and with his approval this new 
scheme, of guerrilla tactics, was set 
into operation. Botha was now to go to 
the Eastern Transvaal, de Wet and 
Hertzog were to take the Free State, de 
la Rey and my father were to go into 
the Western Transvaal, while Beyers 
was to harass the British in the Water- 
berg. This Waterval Boven meeting 



was the last occasion on which my 
father saw the old President. 

My father's role as politician had now 
ceased for a time; he became a man of 
action in the battlefields. So in June, in 
the bitter cold of mid-winter, the 
commandos dispersed to their respec- 
tive theatres. My father set out with 
his small forces westwards down the 
Boekenhout Spruit, past Hammans- 
kraal on the Great North Road, and on 
to the Magaliesberg beyond. He 
passed Slagters Nek the day after de la 
Rey's setback there, and scenes of the 
encounter were still evident. Rusten- 
burg he found strongly held by Gene- 
ral Baden-Powell, and so by-passing 
it, he made for Zwartruggens. Here he 
came upon a force of about a thousand 
Australians, which he immediately 
attacked, driving them into a small 
area near the river. A message had, 



however, been got through to Mafe- 
king and General Corrington set out 
with reinforcements. Between Zeerust 
and Zwartruggens, Corrington was 
intercepted by de la Rey's men and 
driven back. 

As the operation against the Austra- 
lians unavoidably became drawn out, 
which was against the settled Boer 
strategy, my father trekked on again. 
Wherever possible British forces were 
attacked, this being part of the hit-and- 
run tactics to replenish tobacco, sugar 
and such-like from defeated British 
units, and also to get fresh stores of 
ammunition. In these skirmishes the 
Boers had some successes, but they 
were exacting in their way and 
strength was being whittied away in 
casualties. The British policy of 
carrying out vast "sweeps" and of 
destroying Boer potential by burning 



farm-houses and slaughtering stock 
was being widely felt by the comman- 
dos, whose existence depended on 
what they could forage from the land. 
This scorched-earth policy of General 
French, which Milner did not like, was 
a sound one from the replenishment 
aspect, but many of its other virtues 
were dubious, for though it kept the 
commandos short of supplies it served 
to stiffen morale and in the aftermath 
left a strong taste of bitterness, which 
even in these days is a weapon of 
propaganda value. 

For about two weeks my father 
operated in the Rustenburg area, but in 
the Western Transvaal he and de la 
Rey found it increasingly difficult to 
move about. From all sides they were 
beset by the British. So once more 
they decided to part company, de la 
Rey remaining in the west while my 



father went farther south. The whole 
of this portion of the Transvaal was 
covered by scattered Boer units, with 
somewhat larger concentrations at 
Potchefstroom and Vereeniging. My 
father's operational strength was about 
300, mostly men from the Gatsrand 
area of Krugersdorp and to the south. 

In May, 1901, the picture was grim, 
and it looked to the British as though 
results might be achieved by negotia- 
tion. Accordingly Kitchener generous- 
ly allowed my father to contact Presi- 
dent Kruger at Utrecht by wire, from 
Standerton. Needless to say, Kruger, 
far away and completely out of 
contact, said "Fight on!" 

It was in the Vereeniging and 
Potchefstroom areas largely that my 
father operated, continuing his hit-and- 
run harassing tactics, and keeping 
considerable British forces locked up. 



Towards the end of his Transvaal 
campaign he made plans to retake 
Johannesburg, and was actually 
assembling his force at Zuurbekom, 
about ten miles south of Krugersdorp, 
when he received orders to start on a 
sortie into the Cape. 

My father had always attached far 
more importance to the Cape than had 
any of his colleagues. In fact, he 
believed that it was almost as much 
the failure of the Republics to get 
more active support from here as poor 
leadership in the first battles of the 
war, that led to final defeat. At a 
conference of senior Boer leaders on 
20th June, 1901, at Waterval near 
Standerton, he had once more 
advocated an expedition into the Cape 
Midlands. 

From the discussions at the conference 
it was clear that the Free State held out 



no further prospects of fighting and 
that the Transvaal had become almost 
untenable, so it was decided to shift 
the focus back to Natal, where Louis 
Botha was to keep the kettle boiling, 
and to the Cape, into which my father 
was to lead an exploratory force. The 
purpose of this latter trip was to see if 
there was any possibility of getting 
recruits for the depleted forces (and in 
this there was a small measure of 
success) and to cause a tactical diver- 
sion. The Cape also happened to offer 
the only "unscorched" territory in 
which troops could still subsist. 
Affairs in the Free State were at a 
standstill, and the country had been 
laid bare by the British. My father was 
to find de Wet and Hertzog hiding in 
the Fauresmith hills with a handful of 
men (Hertzog had only 20) leading a 
precarious existence. Morale in the 



civilian population had long since 
cracked. 

My father's sortie into the Cape was 
not the first of its kind, but it turned 
out to be the classic of the war. With 
1,500 men de Wet had crossed the 
Orange River in February, 1901, but 
the effort had not proved a success. 
General Hertzog had also previously 
been into the Cape and had penetrated 
as far as van Rhynsdorp, but he had 
few men with him and his journey had 
been precipitate. The people of the 
Cape spoke disparagingly of Hertzog's 
sortie. They said he had come down 
and asked for their support and had 
then left again as abruptly as he came, 
leaving them embarrassed and in 
trouble with the authorities. My father 
assured them, however, that he had 
come to stay. 



My father's Cape trip has been 
variously described not only as the 
most daring manoeuvre, but also the 
most brilliant of the war. With a hand- 
picked band of 362 men, he set out on 
a journey which was to carry him 
2,000 miles and to keep locked up a 
British force of fully 35,000. When 
peace came his force had swelled to 
between 3,000 and 4,000, though of 
his original Krugersdorp men only half 
had survived. My father himself 
always considered his sally into the 
Cape the most successful military 
manoeuvre of the war. General French 
long afterwards told him that it had 
been one of his most troublesome 
problems. However, when later 
summoned to the armistice conference 
my father was forced to admit that 
even the Cape held out little promise 
for the prolongation of the war. 



The Organisation of the Boer 
commandos was commendably 
simple. In charge of a large group 
would be a Vecht Generaal; under him 
would be two or three veld cornetcies 
each of 150-250 men, these in turn 
being sub-divided into corporalships 
of 25 men each. My father's two field 
cornets were Jacobus van Deventer 
(later one of his generals in the First 
World War) and Ben Bouwer. 

While gathering his men for the Cape 
trip they were caught one night in a 
terrible storm near Krugersdorp and 
six were killed, as they slept, by a 
single flash of lightning. 

The jumping-off place for the Cape 
sortie was between Vereeniging and 
Vredefort. In order to elude the British 
more easily my father divided his 
forces in two, first taking 250 men 




General Smuts with his senior Boer War 

officers, van Deventer and Maritz, O'okiep, 

Cape -May 1902 



under van Deventer a short way on 
their journey into the Free State. He 
then returned to Rietpoort near Vrede- 
fort to collect the remaining hundred 
men under Bouwer and left with them 
a few days later, on the 1st of August, 
1901. 

On the way back from van Deventer 
he and some others slept, on the night 
of the 20th July, near a native kraal at 
Paardekop, in a small wood, in the 
Gatsrand Hills. Their boots had got 
wet in fording the Mooi River that 
afternoon and against their usual 
practice they took them off before 
lying down. But a native had treache- 
rously disclosed their whereabouts to 
the British. My father, who usually 
slept a little apart from his snoring 
men, awoke to the sound of rifle fire 
and scuffling, and found himself in the 
midst of the enemy. His native orderly 



Kleinbooi was shot dead, but in the 
darkness and confusion, and by dint of 
speaking English, my father managed 
to edge away slowly and make off in 
his bare feet, leaving behind every- 
thing, including the saddle-bags 
containing his confidential documents. 
A little farther he was challenged in 
the dark by a person who turned out to 
be his secretary and brother-in-law, 
P.S. ("Tottie") Krige, and soon one or 
two more stragglers joined them. My 
father's feet were badly lacerated and 
his friends wrapped towels round 
them, but progress was slow till they 
later found mounts again. His saddle- 
bags, complete with confidential 
despatches, he later recovered where 
he had abandoned them. 

While in the Vereeniging area one 
morning while cooking breakfast 
before setting off on the Cape trip with 



the second detachment, they were 
attacked by a large force of mounted 
Australians, their old friends of the 
Zwartruggens encounter. After a short 
sharp skirmish the Australians were 
beaten off and the Boers went back to 
finish their meal. My father felt sure 
that this reverse would rankle and that 
the enemy would return again later, so 
he took up position accordingly. Sure 
enough, they did, and this time the 
Boers gave them a sound thrashing 
and took many prisoners. Being in no 
position to be encumbered with these 
men, they took from them what they 
wanted and sent them back in their 
shirt-tails to Vereeniging, where there 
were not only concentrations of British 
troops but also large numbers of Boer 
women. The embarrassment of the 
Australians as they rode back into the 
town never failed to provoke a chuckle 



of mirth from my father, who I think 
enjoyed this incident to the full. 

On the 2nd August they crossed the 
Vaal River at Koppieskraal Drift and 
thence moved along the Rhenoster 
River, sleeping the following night at 
Bothaville. Beyond, they crossed the 
Vet River and trekked on to 
Bultfontein. Thirty-five miles farther 
on, on the night of the 14th, they 
crossed the Modder River at Brits 
farm, within a few hundred yards of a 
British camp where a jolly party was 
in progress. Then Brandfort, 
Bloemfontein, Reddersberg and so on 
southwards, past Jagersfontein 
towards the Orange. 

All along the route was evidence of 
the scorched-earth policy. Farms were 
desolate and deserted. In his field 
diary my father noted (in Afrikaans): 
"Dams everywhere filled with rotting 



animals. Water undrinkable. Veld 
covered with slaughtered herds of 
sheep and goats, cattle and horses. 
Hungry lambs run bleating around." 

At Touwfontein, where they arrived on 
the 16th, my father pulled up for a few 
days. Here he sent for "Rechter 9 
Hertzog", who arrived on the night of 
the 19th to discuss the situation in the 
Free State. Hertzog showed my father 
Kitchener's proclamation of the 15th 
September, 1901, about the 
banishment of men and officers, and 
the confiscation of property. At this 
point my father notes in his diary: 
"Nine English columns drawing in 
around me, so I am trying to cross 
railway tonight below Jagersfontein 
Station and Springfontein." On the 
25th, near Edenburg, he noted: "Found 



1 Judge 



myself surrounded on all sides and 
driven on railway line. Had to flee 
from sun-up to sunset..." Next day the 
story was the same: "Enemy still in 
pursuit... My position is precarious; 
horses much done up; burghers 
dispirited. Still I shall press on till 
end." 

Thereafter they moved on past 
Dewetsdorp and crossed the Caledon 
River near Vechtkop, reaching the 
Grootrivier, or Orange River, on 
September 4 at Kafferskop. 

The move into the Cape failed to take 
the British by surprise. In their passage 
southwards through the Free State my 
father's commandos unwittingly 
moved into the biggest of all sweeps 
Lord Kitchener had yet staged. This 
necessitated a considerable amount of 
dodging and delay, and at the same 
time revealed the Boer intentions to 



the British. Accordingly General 
French was ordered by Kitchener to 
hold all possible crossings of the 
Orange River. Four large mounted 
pursuit columns were also organised, 
and in the weeks to come they were to 
stick relentlessly to my father's heels 
and to harass and chase him 
unmercifully. 

By this time the scorched-earth policy 
had already been completed and the 
new block-house and river-line system 
was nearing perfection. Not only were 
there now tents and troops every- 
where, but along all railway lines were 
chains of blockhouses linked by 
tangles of barbed wire. These barriers 
were formidable and could really only 
be forced at night, when there was 
always the hazard of getting lost and 
blundering into danger. 



For the survivors of those who 
undertook the Cape trip the weather 
will always be a nightmare memory, 
for they ran into almost unprecedented 
wet and cold. Yet though some died of 
exposure and all were shivering and 
miserable, the bad weather had its 
compensations; had it been better it is 
doubtful if the excursion would have 
been possible. Not only was visibility 
reduced and the Boers thus enabled to 
slip through the narrowest of gaps 
between the enemy, but the weather 
equally impeded the enemy's 
cumbersome movement. The Boers, 
travelling light, struggled through. 

Deneys Reitz graphically describes the 
trip in his great book Commando. He 
says that at the start he had only four 
rounds of ammunition for his rifle, and 
that others were little better off. On 
their feet they had tattered home-made 



sandals and they were clad only in 
ragged trousers and coats. Their shirts 
and vests had long ceased to exist. As 
the campaign progressed they were 
reduced to improvising apparel out of 
hessian grain bags. Later on they cap- 
tured British uniforms with which they 
gladly clothed themselves, and it was 
only subsequently that they learned, 
that by Kitchener's proclamation all 
Boers so captured were to be sum- 
marily shot. Some unwittingly paid the 
penalty through being unaware of this 
British proclamation. Later when they 
heard of it they speedily retook to their 
grain bags. But in any case British 
subjects from the Cape knew only too 
well that they would be shot upon 
capture as rebels. Some paid this 
penalty. The British were most 
anxious to get hold of my elusive 



father and put a price of £1,000 on his 
head, dead or alive. 

My father's detachment of a hundred 
men had now safely joined up at 
Zastron with van Deventer. This 
village lies just north of the Orange 
River, about twenty miles from the 
Basutoland border. Beyond, the 
approaches to the river and all its 
crossings were heavily guarded. Here 
Louis Wessels, with a party who were 
conversant with this area, was able to 
indicate a little-known precipitous path 
down the escarpment to where the 
river flowed swiftiy down a narrow 
gorge. This unguarded crossing they 
negotiated in the dark on September 
4th and by daybreak all were safely 
across the deep swirling waters. The 
way through the Free State had been 
arduous. Only 250 men remained to 
make this crossing. They were now in 



the British territory of the Cape, on the 
bare open veld, and hurried south- 
wards to reach the Waschbank 
Mountains. On the plateau across the 
river, opposite Herschell, stragglers of 
the commando were attacked by a 
force of some 300 mounted Basuto 
natives. Six men and thirty horses 
were lost, some of the men being 
mutilated and dissected for medicine. 
This hostile attitude of the natives who 
sympathised with the British brought 
forth no retaliation from the Boers 
whose policy it was to concentrate 
exclusively on the war with the 
British. 

Lady Grey was strongly garrisoned 
and so they by-passed it and made into 
the Witteberg Mountains beyond. That 
night they pressed on, determined to 
shake the enveloping forces off in the 
darkness. By daybreak they were 



looking down on Jamestown, but here 
again they could see tents and troop 
columns. So they sought sanctuary in 
the misty Stormberg Mountains. 

The fine weather of recent weeks 
barely gave them time to cross the 
Orange before the rains set in and 
from now on, with little variation, they 
were to be cold and wet for weeks on 
end. 

To add to their trials they were now 
continually to find themselves beset by 
British troops and wherever they 
looked down from the mountain were 
white tents. 

Near Dordrecht on the 7th September 
the way out from the mountains led 
through a narrow defile known as 
"Moordenaars Poort". The British 
were known to be at the other side of 
this poort and the question was 



whether they had not already taken up 
positions in the gap itself. My father 
set out to investigate at four that 
afternoon with a party of four, 
including Tottie Krige and Johannes 
Neethling. Halfway along the poort 
they met with another reconnoitring 
party consisting of Japie Neethling, 
the two Adendorff brothers and 
another person who had just come 
back from the British end of the pass, 
and said the pass was clear but that the 
British were camped immediately 
beyond. My father still did not feel 
happy about the position, so he took 
with him Johannes Neethling and the 
two Adendorff brothers and went to 
investigate. He brought up the rear and 
in view of the bushy cover in the pass 
and its ideal setting for an ambush, it 
was decided that at the first sign of 



danger it would be a case of every man 
for himself. 

Now it so happened that a British 
party had entered the poort just as the 
first reconnoitring party were 
withdrawing, and they observed the 
two parties of Boers when they met. 
So they went into ambush positions in 
a bush on one shoulder. When the 
Boers came to within twenty to thirty 
yards they opened fire, killing one 
Adendorff and all the horses, and 
badly wounding Neethling and the 
other Adendorff. Though my father's 
horse Charlie was shot from under 
him, he himself was not hit and was 
able to make off under a fusillade. By 
judicious running from cover to cover 
he eventually reached a donga down 
which he disappeared. How the British 
missed him was a mystery, for all this 
while bullets steadily pinged round 



him. He told me that in the predica- 
ment of the moment he was worried 
more by the shame of capture than by 
the fear of being killed. During the 
half-hour it took him to elude the party 
he had a lot of rough-and-tumble 
scrambling, so when he arrived back 
footsore in camp at midnight he was 
indeed a sorry sight. 

The ambush took place late in the 
afternoon, and by the time the British 
had got the two wounded men to the 
farmhouse of Mrs. Schoeman it was 
already dark. Both men died shortiy 
after, but before Neethling succumbed 
he asked Mrs. Schoeman to retrieve 
the saddle-bags. Next morning she 
sent out her old native servant girl and 
the bags were buried. In 1903 they 
were returned to my father by Mrs. 
Roodt still intact. She, had only taken 
out a photograph of my mother, which 




.V* 



General Smuts with his Boer War horse "Charlie" - 1901 



she kept as a momento. The contents 
of the bags were four books: a Greek 
New Testament, an English Bible, a 
Complete Works of Schiller, and a 
Greek Anabasis. This last my father 
had found at Jagersfontein and it was 
only partly read when he lost it here. 
At Parys he had found a History of 
Philosophy, but this he had finished 
previously. Kant's Critique of Pure 
Reason he was only to find later at 
Leliefontein near Calvinia. The bags 
and books now form part of his 
collection. 

It was customary for the Boers to send 
out senior men on these reconnoitring 
missions. My father said this was one 
of the most striking operational 
differences between the British and the 
Boers, for the former sent only very 
junior officers who usually were 
incompetent to make true assessments 



of the situation. Many of the British 
failures he attributed to indifferent 
reconnoitring. My father made a habit, 
not only in this war, but also in the 
two World Wars, of going forward 
personally to see things for himself. It 
was a risk, but it paid dividends. 



16 : Rain And Mountains 

In the ambushing party of British was 
an officer named Hughes, the selfsame 
who had searched our house in 
Sunnyside at the start of the war. Later 
he became a firm friend of the family, 
and as a colonel in the First World 
War was one of the two staff officers 
to see my father off at Irene Station 
when he set out for East Africa. When 
my mother pulled Colonel Hughes's 
leg about the poor shooting of the 
British at Moordenaars Poort, he said 
it had appeared to all that my father 
was hit, for he seemed to stumble as 
he ran and his one arm hung limply at 
his side. But at all events, he declared, 
it was providential that their 
marksmanship had been so poor. My 
mother was shown a newspaper while 
she was under detention by the British 
at 'Maritzburg in which it was 



reported that my father had been 
wounded. 

It was bitterly cold in the Stormberg 
Mountains, and the troops, clad mostiy 
only in their grain-bag clothes, were 
drenched and thoroughly miserable. At 
Allemanspoort, near Jamestown, con- 
ditions were so severe that thirty 
horses died of exposure during the 
night. Local sympathisers were to be 
found everywhere who not only gave 
what food they had, but also acted as 
guides. 

After marching all night they still were 
to find no rest on the 10th at 
Allemanspoort, and that morning they 
were in action again. In his diary my 
father noted: "Allemanspoort: enemy 
repulsed; eleven forces move to 
surround me." Next day he added: 
"Enemy surrounds me still further. I 
retire to Labuschagne's Nek. Marched 



by Gardiner's bridle path through two 
English forces half an hour apart... 
Towards afternoon [of the next day] an 
enemy force overtook me and an 
action took place on Stapelberg... 
Enemy losses 50 or 60." 

This happened near Dordrecht in the 
Stormberg Mountains. They were 
surrounded on a high plateau by forces 
under Colonel Monro with little hope 
of escape. Here a courageous 
hunchback volunteered to lead them 
down a remote mountain path, bob- 
bing ahead on a horse in the biting rain 
and wind, and bringing them out on a 
route as near the vertical as horses 
have ever had to negotiate. They 
gratefully bade the hunchback good- 
bye and left him hobbling back in the 
darkness on his crutches. Darkness 
luckily hid the abysses they negotiated 
and by daylight they had sprung the 



trap and for the moment hoped that 
they had finally eluded the British. 

My father often recounted the story of 
the courageous hunchback, and the 
six-hour scramble down the 
mountainside. It was one of his 
favourite stories of the war. 

At the foot of the mountain they came 
across the railway line from Maclear, 
and seeing a train approaching the men 
wanted to roll rocks on to the line. But 
my father, fearing there might be 
civilians in it, let it pass unharmed. 
Little did they realise at the time what 
they had missed. 

On May 15, 1917, at a dinner given by 
the combined British House of 
Commons and House of Lords in his 
honour, over which Lord French 
presided, my father recalled the 
incident: 



"At night I came out of those 
mountains to the railway. It was a very 
dark night, and my small force was 
just on the point of crossing the 
railway when we heard that a train was 
coming. I allowed the train to pass, 
and we stood alongside and looked on. 
You can imagine my feelings when I 
heard some time afterwards that the 
only freight on that train was Lord 
French, who was moving from one 
part of the front to the other to find out 
how I had broken through. If I had not 
missed that chance Lord French would 
have been on that occasion my guest. 
No doubt a very welcome, though a 
somewhat embarrassing, guest!" 

Five miles east of Dordrecht they 
came upon another train, which this 
time they captured. In it, amongst 
other things they found a newspaper 
with the proclamation by Lord 



Kitchener to the effect that all 
burghers caught under arms after 15th 
September, 1901, would be banished 
from South Africa. This raised a 
derisive laugh. 

At last, after a gruelling sixty hours of 
continuous marching, came the first 
rest. But it was not for long; on the 
14th they were on the run again. 
British forces appeared everywhere 
and as fast as they shook one column 
off, they moved into the next. The 
following night proved the worst of 
the war, for they were lashed by rain, 
sleet and wind. The wet grain bags 
froze solid on their backs as they 
floundered through the mud, and when 
daylight came they found that twelve 
of their number had dropped by the 
way from exhaustion, presumably to 
die of cold; though they were leading 
their weary horses, about sixty of the 



beasts succumbed. The survivors 
described it as the worst ordeal of the 
war, and proudly called themselves 
"Men of the Great Rains". At one 
stage it took them six hours to cover 
three miles in a heavy mist. 

On the 17th, at Tarkastad, they were in 
contact with two columns, one under 
Colonel Gorringe and the other under 
Colonel Doran. At Elandsrivierpoort 
they set upon the camp of the 17th 
Lancers and after a short sharp 
skirmish captured it with much booty 
including an Armstrong gun and 
Maxim. This success was not perhaps 
the blessing it appeared to be, for 
though their tea and food supplies 
were replenished and they were en- 
abled to get fresh horse mounts and 
ample stocks of ammunition, they 
wore the warmer uniforms of the 
British and not till long after, near 



Adelaide, did they learn of Kitchener's 
proclamation. 

Maraisburg to the west they found 
occupied by the enemy and so, skirting 
it, they made into the Bamboesberg 
Mountains. Once again they found 
their paths blocked by troops, and 
once more they slipped down an 
obscure steep mountain path into the 
Bedford district. Here the population, 
though English, proved not unfriendly, 
though not co-operative. The 
Winterberg Mountains into which they 
now moved were wild and beautiful, 
with deep valleys of dense primeval 
woods. From now on, food, for both 
themselves and their horses, was a 
problem. In one valley they had to 
abandon thirty half-starved mounts. 

They found Adelaide occupied and so 
by-passed it, moving into the valley of 
the Great Fish River. That night, while 



sleeping in a fold in the ground near 
the railway line at Commadagga, an 
armoured train passed, firing shots at 
random at them in the dark. Next they 
sought safety in the Zuurbergen where, 
on the 30th, in a ravenously hungry 
state, after living sparingly for days on 
the flesh of mountain tortoise, they 
came upon an appetising-looking fruit 
called "Boesmans Brood" (Encepha- 
lartos Alteaisteinii) growing on a 
cycad and looking like a big pine- 
apple. Not knowing that the plant was 
edible only in certain seasons of the 
year, at other times being a deadly 
prussic acid poison, about seventy 
burghers partook heartily of it. Soon 
all were overcome by acute abdominal 
pains and many, including my father, 
lay retching and writhing on the 
ground. Being thus incapacitated was 
most embarrassing, as they were beset 



from every angle by the British. Many 
improved during the night, but my 
father was still in a critical condition 
when daylight came. He was tied to 
his horse and by a clever ruse the sick 
party, who were far behind the main 
body, managed to slip off at an angle 
and elude the pursuing British. 

That Boesmans Brood left my father 
with a weakened stomach all his life. 
This was also one of his favourite 
Boer War stories. So they moved 
swiftly southwards through this 
rugged mountain mass until 
eventually, on October 5th, in the 
distance ahead they could see white 
sand-dunes and a grey mass which 
they new to be the Indian Ocean. They 
were elated, for they realised now that 
they had come farther south than any 
previous commando. After dark the 
lights of Port Elizabeth shone out in 



the distance. The men seemed puzzled 
that my father did not make for the 
town; but he was content with this 
distant view, for his mission lay with 
the Dutch of the Western Cape. 
Moreover, Port Elizabeth was far too 
strongly garrisoned. Everywhere were 
buffalo tracks and wallows, and there 
were abundant signs of elephant, for 
they were not far from the present 
Addo Park. A hunter in the party 
recognised the area and knew of a path 
out south through the mountains to the 
village of Bayville in the Sunday's 
River valley. There was fighting and 
skirmishing with the enemy all the 
way and also in the valley of the Little 
Sunday's River, where they eluded the 
enemy by taking an old disused pass 
down the mountains constructed by Sir 
Henry Smith during the Kaffir wars of 
the fifties. So after five hectic days in 



the mountains they made their way out 
once more into the Somerset district. 

In five weeks they had covered 700 
miles under the severest possible 
conditions. It had been bitterly cold 
throughout and each man's solitary 
blanket had offered little comfort at 
night. They slept, where possible, two 
in a bed for warmth, and when it was 
wet they simply lay down on bushes 
and rocks to keep out of the water. On 
the march they huddled under their 
blankets, which afforded little 
protection against the pelting rain. 
They had been harassed and chased by 
the British almost without respite and 
their horses were too weak to carry on. 
In the trek they had not only crossed 
four of the highest mountain ranges of 
the Cape, but had actually operated 
extensively in them. 



On October 4th Colonel Gorringe, 
who had been hard on their heels for 
some time, decided to press home an 
attack up a steep mountain slope. The 
Boers, in a strong position, turned 
round and struck back, driving him 
down the hillside and inflicting heavy 
losses. It is said he suffered 200 
casualties during the action and lost 
900 horses. 

It had become increasingly plain to my 
father that in view of the problems and 
the harassing tactics of the enemy, it 
would be better to split his force. So 
on the 4th October he called the men 
together and told, them that a turning 
point had been reached by the 
expeditionary force and that they were 
now to split into two parties and to 
move independently westwards to the 
Atlantic seaboard where they were 
later to unite again. Van Deventer was 



to command the second party. My 
father had great confidence in this 
commander and it is said that van 
Deventer was the only man In whom 
he confided his plans. 

My father set off first and after 
occasional light patrol skirmishes 
reached the village of Hobsonville, 
thereafter crossing the Port Elizabeth- 
Graaff Reinet railway line near 
Kendrew Siding on the 8th, later 
passing within seven or eight miles of 
garrisoned Aberdeen and thence into 
the Camdebo Mountains. Here the 
spell of fine weather they had latterly 
enjoyed once more gave place to bitter 
cold and drizzle. In the mountains they 
appeared cornered for a while, but 
later a bridle-path led them out to 
safety again. On the plain below they 
narrowly averted an ambush. 



They were now on the flat expanses of 
the Karoo, but still in constant contact 
with the enemy. On the 14th, beyond 
Karega, my father had a narrow escape 
when an Armstrong shell burst right 
alongside him, covering him in dust 
and soil. That same day, due to faulty 
pickets, they were nearly caught by 
Colonel Scobell while resting. The 
next day they moved into the Beaufort 
West district and marched on all day 
and the next night. The following day 
found them at the foot of the Zwart- 
bergen, where they were joined by 
Commandant Scheepers with a 
hundred men. Crossing over the 
mountains they moved on into the 
Uniondale and Oudtshoorn districts. 
From valley to valley they moved, in 
one coming upon a Mr. Guest, who, in 
the space of a day, had the mortifi- 
cation of being twice visited by the 



Boers and twice by the British, on 
each occasion having the pleasure of 
seeing more of his stock devoured by 
his guests. 

On the 19th they ambushed a British 
column moving through Meirings 
Poort and took some booty. Four days 
later, at Rooikraal, my father had 
another lucky escape from a shell, 
again being covered in grit and smoke. 
Still travelling steadily westwards, 
they moved into Longkloof the next 
day. 

In the Kamanassi River valley his 
commando were hotly pursued by a 
big British mounted column, but he 
reached the arid plains of the Calvinia 
district safely and pushed, on to 
Elandsvlei, an oasis complete with 
waving palm trees. Thence they 
moved in leisurely fashion to Biddow 
and Kobbee and so on to van 



Rhynsdorp, where Manie Maritz had 
recently been. Maritz was not only a 
man of courage but a ruthless person 
of tremendous physical strength, and 
many years later he was to prove a 
thorn in my father's side. 



Here in the South-Western Cape the 
commando paused during December, 
1901, for the purpose of consolidating 
into three commandos the small bands 
of Boers that operated in the district. 
Many of the troops for the first time 
saw the sea and they rushed wildly on 
their' horses into the Atlantic surf. On 
Christmas Day Deneys Reitz, of my 
father's staff, linked up with van 
Deventer's commando, and Maritz, 
too, was found at Tonteldoos, 80 miles 
to the north. Maritz had been repulsed 
there the day before and had a gaping 



wound in his chest, but he made light 
of it. 

Patrolling was carried out from the van 
Rhynsdorp area to as far afield as 
beyond Porterville, and within sight of 
Table Mountain. My uncle Tottie 
Krige penetrated into the Malmesbury 
district where he went to visit my 
grandfather, Jacobus Smuts, from 
whom he brought back money for my 
father. He also took a letter, written at 
Nieuwoudtville, near Calvinia, on 4th 
January, 1902, from my father to his 
brother Koos. My father seemed in a 
depressed frame of mind and worried 
about my mother's state of health at 
Pietermaritzburg. He concluded: "I 
have had numerous narrow escapes in 
this war, for which I am grateful; but 
each person has his time... I hold out 
little hope of seeing you, all again: I 



know you will do your best to help 
Isie." 

My father now made a long 
reconnaissance with his staff to 
Kakamas on the Orange River, 300 
miles to the north, to organise the 
commandos there, on the way back 
pausing at Tonteldoos. On the farm 
Middelpoort on the Fish River he 
came upon van Deventer's commando 
in the midst of an attack on a British 
camp of 100 wagons, which they took 
after a sharp skirmish. Meanwhile 
Bouwer had been left in charge of my 
father's commando in van Rhynsdorp. 
Here they were visited by a stocky, 
middle-aged colonist named Lambert 
Colyn, who professed a desire to fight 
the British. After a while, though not 
quite unnoticed, he slunk off on his 
horse. The belief that he had come to 
spy was later confirmed when he 



stormed the house at the head of a 
troop of British horsemen, seventeen 
casualties being inflicted before the 
Boers escaped. 

Later on my father combined his 
forces again to attack the nearby town 
of Windhuk where the British had 
established themselves after being 
driven from van Rhynsdorp. The town 
was taken with much booty and 200 
persons, amongst whom Colyn was 
identified. He was brought before my 
father, who knowing what had 
happened sent him to be tried by a 
Court Martial presided over by 
Commandant L. Boshoff, at Aties, on 
25th February, 1902. At this court 
Colyn handed in a sworn statement in 
which he admitted his complicity and 
other witnesses also testified to the 
same effect. He was found guilty of 
spying and my father signed the 



execution order. The documents of this 
case are also in my father's collection. 

"Take him away and shoot him," he 
said briefly to the guards. Though 
Colyn collapsed and begged for 
mercy, and though the women of the 
van Zyl household fled the house in 
terror, it made no impression on the 
precise legalistic mind of my father. 
When I was young I remember hearing 
him recount the Colyn incident and he 
did so in such matter-of-fact terms that 
I was left without any doubt that he 
considered it merely a minor incident 
of the campaign. 

Colyn' s execution, though based on 
sound military justice, has not been 
without subsequent political 

repercussions, but these may be safely 
relegated to ignorance or political 
malice. Biographers have utilised the 
incident to show a hard streak in my 



father, but to soldiers in the field such 
actions are natural, and in cases like 
this, trivial. 

From van Rhynsdorp my father kept in 
constant touch with his command in 
the Transvaal and with President 
Kruger, who had by that time gone to 
Europe and was living in Holland. 
Early in 1902 he sent the President an 
optimistic account of conditions in the 
Republics and the Cape. He wrote of 
the dangers threatening the British in 
the Cape, where there were thousands 
of disciplined Boer veterans fighting 
splendidly, all living well by their 
depredations on the British army. 

At Darling, near my father's 
birthplace, a burgher named 
Boonzaaier, an adjutant of Maritz, and 
some of his comrades fired a few rifle 
shots at a British cruiser lying offshore 



at Lambert's Bay and then decamped 
again. 

In the beginning of January, at a 
conference on the farm Soetwater, my 
father explained to his officers that he 
had decided to split up his commando 
into smaller units and to disperse them 
to many parts of the Cape. This would 
lock up larger numbers of British 
troops and would also facilitate their 
living-off-the-land tactics. 

To the north, 150 miles away, lay the 
copper-mining town of O'okiep with 
its satellite villages Springbok and 
Concordia. These were British held, 
and in order to draw off the attentions 
of troops in other areas, it was decided 
to attack them. The commando was to 
split into small parties and to make for 
a point in the Kamiesbergen where 
they were to re-form. Springbok, 
which lies about three miles from 



O'okiep, was to be attacked first, then 
Concordia, and finally O'okiep itself. 
The defence system was based on 
blockhouses and the attack therefore 
resolved itself into a series of 
experiments with home-made 
dynamite hand-grenades, some of 
which eventually breached the 
defences. Finally, after much bomb- 
throwing, the last fort was demolished 
by a mammoth bomb hurled by the 
herculean Maritz and the outer 
defences of O'okiep fell into Boer 
hands. O'okiep itself was, however, a 
tougher nut and Colonel Shelton was 
determined to hold out at all costs. My 
father therefore decided on blockade 
tactics, as these served his purpose as 
well as any. 



17 : Vereeniging 

One morning towards the end of 
April, 1902, a cart flying a white flag 
was noticed approaching from the 
south. The two officers carried a 
communication from Lord Kitchener 
to say that a meeting between the 
British and Boer leaders was to be 
held at Vereeniging as soon as 
possible. A safe-conduct was enclosed 
signed by Colonel D. Haig. This same 
Douglas Haig, later Field Marshal and 
Commander-in-Chief of the British 
forces in the First World War, was to 
see much of my father during those 
harrowing years. My father, 
accompanied by Tottie Krige and 
Deneys Reitz, was then escorted to 
Port Nolloth with full military honours 
and put aboard the troopship Lake Erie 
which then steamed to Cape Town. 
Here they were to spend a week on 



board the battleship Monarch at 
Simonstown. Everywhere they were 
treated with the utmost civility and 
courtesy by their enemy, and Deneys 
Reitz was moved to recording: "The 
British, with all their faults, are a 
generous nation, and not only on the 
man-of-war, but throughout the time 
we were among them, there was no 
word said that could hurt our feelings 
or offend our pride, although they 
knew that we were on an errand of 
defeat." 

On the way up to the Transvaal by 
train there were frequent guards of 
honour at various stations; General 
French came to see them at 
Matjesfontein, and at Kroonstad Lord 
Kitchener, on a black charger accom- 
panied by a bodyguard of Pathans, 
came to meet the train and have 
discussions with my father. He 



stressed that he was eager to end the 
war, and referred repeatedly to the 
hopelessness of the Boer resistance, 
pointing out that he had 400,000 
troops in South Africa against the 
Boer 18,000. He would he 
magnanimous to the enemy if they 
surrendered. My father made no 
comment. 

Thence, still under escort, my father 
proceeded first by armoured train and 
later by cart to the Eastern Transvaal 
for a conference with General Botha. 
Here were gathered 300 delegates 
from every commando in the Eastern 
Transvaal for the purpose of electing 
representatives for the Peace 
Conference at Vereeniging. Deneys 
Reitz says: "Nothing could have 
proved more clearly how nearly the 
Boer cause was spent than these 
starving, ragged men clad in skins and 



sacking, their bodies covered in sores. 
Their appearance was a great shock to 
us who came from the better- 
conditioned forces in the Cape. They 
had reached the limit of physical 
endurance." 

Subsequentiy delegates from all over 
the country were brought together in a 
large tented camp prepared by the 
British at Vereeniging. Every leader of 
note was there, including de la Rey, 
Christian de Wet, President Steyn, 
Beyers, Kemp, Hertzog, Botha, my 
father and others. 

The Dutch Premier, Baron Kuyper, 
had sometime earlier offered the 
services of the Netherlands 
Government as an intermediary 
between the two parties, but Lord 
Lansdowne had not accepted this. He 
insisted that negotiations must be 
direct with Kitchener. Acting- 



President Burger, of the Transvaal, 
shortly afterwards approached the 
British Commander-in-Chief, and later 
the two Republics held discussions at 
Klerksdorp with the permission of 
Kitchener, who also provided facilities 
for the election of delegates. Thirty of 
these representatives from each State 
met therefore at this Vereeniging 
Peace Conference on 15th May, 1902. 

There was considerable divergence of 
opinion amongst the Boers on the 
question of surrender. Steyn and de 
Wet of the Free State were "bitter- 
enders" and opposed to any idea of 
surrender. Botha, my father and the 
Transvaal delegates realised that the 
game was up and that surrender was 
unavoidable, though de la Rey, while 
concurring, was still far from 
convinced. My father's feelings were 
that "it was better to negotiate an 



orderly peace now under the best 
possible terms than to be crushed later 
and have ignominious terms thrust 
upon us". 

He put the case clearly to them: "The 
great danger before this meeting is that 
it will come to a decision purely from 
the military point of view... If we 
consider it only as a military matter, 
then I must admit we can still go on 
with the struggle... But we are not here 
as an army. We are here as a people... 
Everyone here represents the 
Afrikander people... Burghers, we 
decided to stand to the bitter end. Let 
us now, like men, admit that the end 
has come for us, come in a more bitter 
shape than we ever thought... We bow 
to God's will." 

After considerable deliberation even 
de la Rey was forced to exclaim, "Has 
the bitter end not come?" What was 



the point in carrying on? Finally a 
commission consisting of Botha, de 
Wet, de la Rey, Hertzog and my father 
was appointed to negotiate with 
Kitchener and Milner in Pretoria. 

At the conference there was 
considerable difference of opinion 
between Milner and Kitchener. 
Kitchener, a kindly understanding 
man, as a soldier appreciated the 
feelings of a vanquished foe, and 
favoured moderation with certain 
concessions. Milner, businesslike as 
ever, demanded unconditional 
surrender and wrote home unflatter- 
ingly of Kitchener's bargaining. My 
father tried vainly for a compromise. 
Late into the night they argued to 
break this impasse. Towards morning 
someone gently touched my father's 
arm. It was Kitchener. They went 
outside and walked up and down in 



earnest discussion. What finally 
clinched matters was when Kitchener 
said, "I can only give it to you as my 
opinion, but my opinion is that in two 
years' time a Liberal Government will 
be in power, and if a Liberal 
Government comes into power, it will 
grant you a constitution for South 
Africa." Here, though not a certainty, 
was a ray of hope. The British 
Commander's words had turned the 
scale, though unconditional surrender 
was in any case inevitable. It 
sweetened the pill. They returned to 
Vereeniging with a draft agreement 
bearing Milner's approval. 

The Commission's report was 
accorded a mixed reception. It was 
received by the majority without 
enthusiasm, and it took all President 
Steyn's efforts to placate de Wet. 



To my father with that distant sight of 
his, the promise of a bright future was 
already visible. He had statesmanlike 
visions of a reunited Boer nation 
dwelling as a peaceful state with its 
own constitution within the framework 
of the British Empire. 

From the Cape to the Limpopo the 
map was now red. Rhodes had not 
lived to see it, for on March 26, 
several weeks before hostilities 
ceased, he had died in his small 
cottage at Muizenberg. "So much to 
do - so little done!" were said to have 
been his last words. 

My father was now only thirty-two 
years of age. For almost fifty further 
years he was to toil in the service of 
his country. They were a glorious fifty 
years, in which he was to be both pilot 
and architect. 



There may be some who feel that I 
have written of the Jameson Raid and 
the Boer War with a strong pro-Boer 
bias; this would, however; be an unfair 
criticism, for in fact, Britain has no 
stauncher friend and admirer than 
myself. This period of history was one 
in which imperialism went berserk, 
and it is one of which many Britons 
themselves are far from proud. There 
is, moreover, a certain justification for 
writing so critically of British policy 
of this period, for it serves, by 
contrast, to indicate the wonderful 
change of heart that came about after 
the Boer War. Since then Britain has 
made ample amends for her sins and 
South Africa has had no truer friend. 

While most of us are quick to 
appreciate this hand of friendship, 
there are still misguided countrymen 
of mine living in the chilly, dead past, 



who have failed to realise that a new Given time and understanding, sanity 

world order has arisen since the Boer will one day prevail. 

War, and still harbour a bitterness in 

their hearts which time and reason 

seem incapable of sweetening. They 

remember only those unpleasant 

incidents we have long since gladly 

forgotten. Two World Wars have since 

shaken civilisation to its foundations, 

but they have passed unnoticed over 

the heads of these bitter people. 

At present the pendulum, which 
started at the beginning of the century 
on the side of imperialism, appears to 
have passed its mid-point and now 
moves, strangely, into the area of 
aggressive Afrikanderism. This, as 
with all revolutions in the bosoms of 
men, will run its course, and prove, 
like its predecessors, a mere fleeting 
phase. We must not grow impatient. 



18 : The Hardened Warrior 

My father took as much pride in his 
exploits of the Boer War as in any 
other. If the frequency with which he 
reminisced is any criterion, this 
certainly is so. I think it was due to the 
fact that in it he found satisfaction for 
the first time in physical expression 
and achievement, in hardships and in 
really intimate association with his 
fellow men. It was a return to the veld 
life of his boyhood, and an opportunity 
to explore that vast homeland of his. 
Explore it he certainly did, from the 
Portuguese border in the east, to the 
Atlantic at Port Nolloth in the west; 
from the Waterberg in the north to the 
plains near Malmesbury. Exacting 
conditions tempered and matured him. 
The experience gave him a respite 
from his books and administrative 
duties and time to ponder and to plan. 



In those long months in the open air he 
formed a philosophy of life and an 
understanding of the world which he 
followed ever after. 

There was nothing harsh or artificial 
about it, for as in nature, all depended 
upon the beneficent factor of Time. 
Time was the great Creator, the great 
healer. Time must not be rushed but 
given a fair chance to function. 

My father also believed that young 
nations had to pass the fires of testing 
before they could attain nationhood. 
Had the war ended tamely at Pretoria, 
the Boers would have missed those 
great testing times, and would not 
have been fused into such a solid 
mass. Whether this advantage was not 
over-stressed and whether the 
subsequent cooperation with the 
British elements was not jeopardised 



by this very fact, history alone will be 
able to tell. 

It is said that my father was an 
embittered man after the Boer War. 
That I think is an overstatement. 
Certainly he did pass through a period 
of depression and despair. It is a 
known fact that wars produce in all 
active combatants, whether victors or 
vanquished, a psychological reaction 
of cynicism and disillusionment. This 
has been amply demonstrated by the 
problem of rehabilitation of ex- 
Servicemen. In judging my father's 
reaction one should bear this post-war 
psychosis in mind. I think it will be 
agreed that his reactions were 
remarkably restrained. He had just 
passed through the most searing fires 
in life, and had been called upon to 
make far-reaching decisions. He had 
seen his companions killed and 



wounded alongside him in the 
battlefields, he had seen once 
prosperous farms charred and 
blackened masses, he had seen the 
work of generations razed to the 
ground, and the population reduced to 
the precarious life of wild animals. 

My mother felt these tragic events 
acutely. The kindest, gentlest and most 
forgiving person I have ever known, 
she felt bitter towards the British. She 
says she felt bitter for a long while, 
and had it not been for the fact that she 
and my father became close friends 
with Lord Methuen some years later, 
falling under the spell of that fine and 
friendly Englishman, the feeling might 
have persisted longer. Lord Methuen 
was fittingly the first visitor to stay at 
our new house at Irene when he and 
his daughter Seymour spent New Year 
there in 1910. 



In fairness to my mother I must here 
add that her bitterness was perhaps not 
without provocation, for in the years 
of the war she had lost her baby son, 
she had seen a price of £1,000 placed 
on her husband's head, and she herself 
had been taken from her home in 
Pretoria and kept in detention in a 
house in 'Maritzburg from January, 
1901, to August, 1902. Her treatment 
at 'Maritzburg, she has always been 
quick to add, was scrupulously fair. 
But perhaps it would have been more 
generous of the English to have sent 
her down to her parents at 
Stellenbosch. 

My father emerged from the Boer War 
with an improved constitution, a great 
reputation, and considerable 

experience of leadership. He had 
tasted power and felt the exhilaration 
of action. Well did he know the feeling 



of responsibility, the call of duty. The 
beard he grew hid the youthful line of 
his features. When he went to visit his 
father (his mother had died in 
February, 1901) the old man failed to 
recognise this mature son. In conver- 
sation, those searching pale blue eyes 
dominated one's attention. They were 
remarkable eyes and formed perhaps 
the most striking feature in his 
physical personality. In the great ones 
of the world I have never come across 
similar eyes. Yet they were 
understanding and expressive, not 
without a warmth of friendliness. 
Their remarkable clearness carried 
with them a feeling of clarity of soul 
as well. They never grew frosty or 
cloudy with his change of mood. It 
was the tone of voice and general 
demeanour rather than the eyes that 



denoted his pleasure or chagrin. There 
was no mistaking either. 

In studying my father at this time one 
is apt to forget his youth. When he 
became State Attorney he was only 
twenty-eight and even now, at 
Vereeniging, he had barely turned 
thirty-two. He had become 
accustomed to moving in the company 
of experienced men of twice his age, 
and the respect with which his word 
and reasoning were treated was all the 
more remarkable. He must, even then, 
have had a developed personality. He 
commanded not only the respect of the 
public, and the confidence of his 
troops, but also that of hardened 
politicians, and diplomats in their 
council chambers listened to him with 
attention. 

In 1935, at an Imperial Press 
Conference in Cape Town, my father 



said: "Only a generation ago this 
country was locked in a grim and 
deadly struggle with the old British 
Empire. We Boers fought for freedom 
and independence. We found it in a 
strange way, where we least 
expected." 

In a political speech in Bloemfontein 
in November, 1939, he observed, 
"There is talk today of the Boer War, 
of concentration camps, and attempts 
are being made to make our flesh 
creep about what happened in the old 
times. But let us rather think of what 
has happened since. Let us think also 
of the fine treatment, the generosity 
and the helping hand we have 
experienced from Great Britain ever 
since. We render the people of this 
country no service by continually 
harking back to what happened in the 



distant past and forgetting what has 
happened since." 

He kept carbon copies of his reports 
and dispatches during his Boer War 
sojourn in the South-West Cape. They 
are mostly still rolled as they had been 
carried in his saddle-bags. They are 
written in Dutch and are mostly brief 
in character and signed J.C. Smuts, 
Assistant Comdt. -General. The hand- 
writing is unmistakable and little 
changed. The only difference is that 
while in the Boer War it was rather 
angular, it became more rounded and 
free-flowing. Until people got to know 
it, strangers found it difficult to read. 

These reports and dispatches are as 
much concerned with such practical 
matters as fodder for the horses as 
with the fighting, for they were 
operating in a semi-desert corner of 
the arid Karoo, not far from the Port 



Nolloth diamond fields of 
Namaqualand. This western Orange 
River area was not only the driest in 
the Union but also the hottest. 
Goodhouse has a record of high 
temperatures unsurpassed by any other 
spot in the country. 

Here is a translation of a typical field 
dispatch: 

Olivenhouts Rivier, 
27.3.1902. 

V. Genl. van Deventer, 

Dear Sir, 

I was pleased to receive your report 
and intend moving north from here as 
fast as possible. Naude and Bouwer's 
commandos are already at Arkoep 
north of Bowesdorp, while Comdt. 
Bouwer himself has moved on ahead 
with a detachment to Rietfontein west 



of Mestklip. My plan is to move 
suddenly to between Mestklip and 
Springbok with the object of cutting 
off the enemy at Mestklip, and then to 
attempt to storm Springbok and 
O'okiep. You must move north with 
all possible speed to between 
Springbok and Mestklip, sending out 
runners to contact me in the vicinity of 
Rietfontein. I shall also endeavour to 
establish contact with you. 

I have also instructed V. General 
Maritz to move there. He will leave 
behind a party to keep watch on the 
enemy from Garies. 

As forage is scarce we must work 
swiftly to make use of the present 
favourable position. 

Comdt. Wessels reported to me at 
Leliesfontein. He and Theron drove 
back some columns from Vischrivier 



towards Williston. There is ample 
fodder at Vischrivier. 

(Sgd.) J.C. SMUTS. 
Asst. Comdt. Genl. 

The earlier diaries from which I have 
quoted were written in English. This is 
a remarkable fact when it is 
remembered that at the time he was 
fighting the English. But it does bear 
out that, even then, he was doing most 
of his serious thinking in English - a 
characteristic he retained throughout 
his life. I often got the impression 
when he was speaking that he was 
thinking in English and doing a sub- 
conscious translation, especially in the 
way he had sometimes to feel for the 
Afrikaans idiom. 

I might here add, too, that he never 
lost the queer "Malmesbury" guttural 
way he had of pronouncing his "r". 



You could tell without any doubt that 
it was not an Englishman speaking. 
After the Boer War, hecklers at 
political meetings often belittled his 
pronunciation, forgetting that even at 
that age he had perhaps as extensive a 
vocabulary and as wide a reference as 
any Englishman in the country. "I 
admit my English is not flawless," he 
would say. Yet that Malmesbury "r" 
survived across the generations, and in 
dark times to come men listened to it 
gladly as a symbol of hope and 
optimism. 

I might here remark that the guttural 
"r" is at least infectious, if not 
hereditary, for only two of us in a 
family of six have managed to avoid 
it. 

The Boer War was over. South Africa 
rolled up her sleeves and set about the 
task of salvaging what remained from 



the wreckage while in Europe people 
sat back to take stock and to ponder 
the implications of what had occurred. 
Britain, though victorious, came to 
feel it was a hollow victory and was 
shocked and even shamed. She 
became convinced that her aggressive 
Imperialism was fraught with grave 
dangers, and her heart demanded a 
more ethical approach to relationships. 
With that realisation began a new era 
of tolerance and prosperity, which in 
years to come was to bring her much 
lustre. 

In Germany, much thought had 
brought that nation to the conclusion 
that without a navy they were 
impotent. To become a great power, 
especially one that spanned the oceans, 
she had to have a first-class navy. This 
started Germany off on a building 
programme which by direct linkage 



was twelve years later to enable her to 
plunge the entire world into war. 



19 : Reconstruction 

Milner, newly created a viscount on 
the strength of his Boer War success, 
and Governor of the new Transvaal 
and Orange River Colonies, estab- 
lished his headquarters in Johannes- 
burg and set about the task of 
reconstructing the shattered country. 
To his credit it must be noted that he 
had turned down the attractive offer by 
Mr. Chamberlain of a Colonial Secre- 
taryship, and had done this in order 
that he might reconstruct South Africa. 
His decision to stay on in the country 
deepened my father's depression. 

Lord Milner, undeterred as ever by the 
feelings of the people, about him, was 
determined to model a new country 
according to his own ideas. From 
Oxford he had brought a group of 
graduates to aid him in this task. 
Though the idea of bringing out this 



"Kindergarten" of young experts was a 
novel one it had much to commend it. 
In any case the right men were not 
available in South Africa. On the 
whole it worked with great benefit to 
the country and all its members have 
since become famous: Geoffrey 
Dawson was for long to be a distin- 
guished editor of The Times; John 
Buchan became famous as a novelist 
and historian, and later, as Lord 
Tweedsmuir, Governor-General of 
Canada; Philip Kerr, as Marquess of 
Lothian, became Britain's Ambassador 
in Washington during World War I; F. 
B. Smith, a Nobel Prize winner, was to 
become a famous professor of Agri- 
culture at Cambridge; Patrick Duncan 
stayed on in South Africa and in years 
to come was my father's right-hand 
man and the first Union-domiciled 
person appointed to the Governor- 



Generalship; R.H. Brand, economist, 
served in many capacities with great 
distinction. 

A vast array of problems faced the 
Milner regime: there was the question 
of the repatriation of the 32,000 Boer 
exiles, the return of refugees and 
110,000 concentration camp inmates, 
the restitution of prisoners of war, the 
transfer from military to civilian 
government, the establishment of law 
and order, the revival of trade and 
industry, reparations, re-establishment 
of agriculture and a hundred and one 
other difficulties. 

All these tasks were tackled 
simultaneously with vigour. By 
March, 1903, all the prisoners of war 
had been repatriated. The evacuation 
of British troops was expeditiously 
carried out, and by March only 30,000 
remained. Boer families were brought 



back from the concentration camps 
and rehabilitated on their farms. After 
five years Britain had paid out 
£9,500,00 in compensation to the 
Boers - more than three times the 
amount asked for by my father at 
Vereeniging. The problem of 
compensation threatened to become 
farcical, for the spate of demands from 
the Boers knew no bounds. People 
were out to get all they could from 
Britain. 

My father, who returned to his house 
in Sunnyside, was distressed to find 
his cherished library of law books 
wrecked, but he put in no claim. 
Throughout his life he never put in any 
claim against governments. It was his 
conviction that people leading public 
lives should not do so. 

But the manner in which 
compensation was paid out left much 



discontent. To give immediate relief 
Milner decided to give assistance at 
once and to ask for proof afterwards. 
He distributed £3,000,000 at the rate 
of £25 per burgher, regardless of 
whether the assistance was required or 
not, and was later to make the 
adjustments deemed necessary. The 
"protected burghers", the despised 
Boer "handsuppers", were granted an 
additional £1,9000,000 and the Uit- 
landers £2,000,000. This occasioned 
much bitterness, and the general lack 
of equity caused much hardship. In 
addition £3,000,000 was distributed on 
short-term loan. 

To Herbert Baker, another 
Kindergarten member, was entrusted 
the design of the new public buildings 
that were erected throughout the 
country. Years before, Rhodes had 
been impressed by the idealism of this 



young architect and had given him the 
job, amongst others, of designing his 
own residence at Groote Schuur, on 
the slopes of Devil's Peak. By his 
great gifts of broad vision and 
sympathetic feeling, Baker created a 
fine series of buildings. He remained 
throughout his life a great admirer and 
firm friend of my father's. 

My mother, returned from her nineteen 
months' sojourn in Pietermaritzburg, 
looked tired and thin. Under the strain 
of the war years, her weight had 
dropped to little over seven stone, but 
her spirit was undiminished. Her 
bitterness did not obscure from her the 
fact that a fresh life had now to be 
started. 

My father returned to the Bar in 
Pretoria as a junior. He was now well 
known and he did not have to struggle 
to make a living as had been the case 



in Johannesburg. He had friends 
everywhere and the country was 
swelled with British money. So his 
practice prospered and he devoted his 
time and energies to it. 

The most celebrated case that came his 
way at this time was the defence of a 
grandson of Paul Kruger, a Mr. S.J. P. 
Smit, who had murdered an unpopular 
moneylender named Davis at Swart- 
spruit near Pretoria. My father 
introduced a defence that was at that 
time new to this country, that of 
hereditary insanity. Apparently there 
was evidence of epilepsy in the family. 
Much to his surprise, this flimsy 
defence was accepted; Smit was sent 
to a mental institution for a year or 
two and then released. Strange to 
relate, this same Smit rebelled in 1914 
against the man who so narrowly 
saved him from the gallows. 



In June, 1902, General Lyttelton 
replaced Kitchener. 

There were signs that the country was 
recovering. An indication of this was 
that land values were rising. This had 
the effect of placating the farming 
people. It was unfortunate that a 
severe drought occurred at the end of 
1902, followed later by floods and 
locusts; the extremely high cost of 
living was also proving a trial to the 
people. 

In 1903, a deputation of Boers led by 
Botha went to England to try to obtain 
financial assistance. They were 
received most courteously, and were 
feted and lionised as only Britain can 
lionise a vanquished foe. But they got 
nothing beyond goodwill and 
friendliness; nor did they meet with 
better luck on the Continent. So they 
returned to South Africa with the 



chastened conviction that they would 
have to settle down and make ends 
meet as best they could. 

In January, 1903, Joseph Chamberlain 
visited Pretoria at Milner's invitation. 
He was received by the people at a big 
reception in the Raadsaal. The Boers 
were granted permission to put their 
grievances before him. It was 
significant that my father, as he was 
then no politician, was deputed to put 
their case to Chamberlain in 
preference to all the other illustrious 
leaders present. He spoke in 
Afrikaans, through an interpreter. 
English was the official language of 
the land and he now asked that 
concession be made in respect of the 
Afrikaans language; he spoke also of 
the burden of war taxation, and 
requested an amnesty for the Cape 
rebels whose crimes had merely been 



those of the whole Boer race. 
Chamberlain listened sympathetically 
but made no immediate concessions. 
When he departed he told Milner, 
however, to treat these matters with 
greater tolerance. He had been 
favourably impressed by the bearing 
of the Boers during his visit. My father 
says their behaviour, which was calm 
and dignified, made a better 
impression on Chamberlain than that 
of his own English countrymen. 

This goodwill, spurred on no doubt by 
the impatience of the Boers, bore fruit, 
and in 1903 Milner offered seats in his 
nominated Legislative Council to 
Botha, de la Rey and my father. 
Through my father this offer was 
refused. The time was not ripe yet for 
popular representative institutions; it 
would be better to wait till the country 
was more settled. It was only right that 



as the government at the moment had 
all the power, it should also shoulder 
all the responsibilities. 

The refusal was just what Milner 
wanted. It bore out his contention that 
the Boers were completely unco- 
operative. 

Long ago, my father was fond of 
recounting a little incident which went 
to show how distrustful Milner still 
was of the Boers and how out of touch 
with the people. He was to attend a 
public function at some place in the 
south-western Transvaal, if I 
remember rightly, Potchefstroom or 
thereabouts. The town, which was 
almost completely Boer, decided to 
give him a rousing welcome And 
made arrangements accordingly. As 
Milner' s horse-drawn coach entered 
the village a group of young men were 
to rush forward, unhitch the animals 



and themselves draw the cart to the 
centre of festivities. This little surprise 
was kept secret from Milner. Imagine, 
therefore, the poor man's conster- 
nation, when, as he got to the 
boundary, a group of husky young 
men rushed his entourage trailing 
wicked ropes. He was convinced that 
his assassination was imminent, and 
thinking discretion the better part of 
valour, jumped to the ground and 
decamped as fast as he could go. The 
master of ceremonies, sensing this 
hitch in the programme, ran after him 
shouting lustily, "My Lord! My 
Lord!" but it was some time before 
they impressed on the King's repre- 
sentative that they were merely acting 
in a friendly spirit. The picture of 
Milner doing that desperate sprint, 
gave my father great pleasure. 



He was still very despondent and 
disillusioned. He wrote to Merriman 
that he sometimes despaired of the 
future. "One lives here in an 
atmosphere which is entirely devoid of 
culture" and "frankly materialistic". 

Much of Milner's scheme of 
reconstruction was based on funds to 
be derived from the taxation of profits 
of a rejuvenated gold mining industry. 
But in this he was to be disappointed, 
for the industry was passing through 
lean and difficult times. Native labour 
was almost unobtainable, not only 
because natives had been spoiled by 
the readiness with which they made 
easy money during the war, but also 
because the wages offered by the 
mines had dropped from 45 shillings 
in pre-war days to 30 shillings. Milner 
failed to appreciate, as Rhodes had 
done earlier on and had remedied in 



his Glen Grey Act, that unless a native 
male is compelled to work by firm 
persuasion he is very likely to prefer a 
life of ease, lying happily in the sun. 

To Milner, therefore, the only solution 
lay in indentured Chinese labour and 
in this he had the full support of 
George Farrar, leader of the English 
party in the House of Assembly. This 
was not South Africa's first taste of 
foreign labour. In the 1860's the 
people of Natal had brought in about 
six thousand low caste Madras Indians 
to help in their sugar-cane fields. The 
Indians bred prolifically and at the turn 
of the century presented a formidable 
problem to Natal and elsewhere. In 
their easy-going fashion the people of 
Natal, though perplexed by the 
problem, had done little to solve it, 
and instead of raising a clamour to get 
the coolies repatriated, merely crossed 



their arms in resignation. Hence the 
serious problem of the Indian in the 
Natal of today - a people liked by 
neither whites nor blacks. 

My father saw clearly the implications 
of the proposed importation of 
Chinese to the Rand. We already had 
sufficient problems of race and colour 
in this country. The idea outraged him 
and his countrymen. 

A middle-aged Quaker spinster, Emily 
Hobhouse, came from England as a 
welfare worker amongst the Boer 
families in the concentration camps 
during the war. She had earned high 
gratitude and praise for her labours. 
My parents met her for the first time 
after the war and thereafter my father 
was to carry on correspondence with 
her, somewhat in the form of a diary, 
for many years. He wrote her a letter 
in February, 1903, in which he un- 



burdened his bruised feelings. He 
condemned the intention to import 
Chinese in the strongest terms; he 
slated Milner; he castigated the mining 
industry of which he said that little 
better than 80 per cent were bogus 
concerns. We were "merrily spinning 
to perdition" he wrote in despair. 

Kind-hearted and well-meaning Miss 
Hobhouse, without my father's 
concurrence, had this long letter 
published in full in The Times of 15th 
April. It was hard to conceive of a 
more foolish or damaging act. 

The reactions were instantaneous. 
There was an immediate outcry 
against my father. He wrote to Miss 
Hobhouse, "A tremendous sensation 
was created last week by the cables of 
my letter which you published. As 
later letters were hostile to Lord 
Milner and their publication would 



have meant my enforced departure 
from this country, I took the 
precaution of warning you against 
further publication. 

"On the whole I feel sorry the letter 
was published, as I would have 
expressed myself more cautiously had 
I known it would be published. As it 
is, it appears exaggerated and unfair... 
Lord Milner is said to be very pleased, 
as the letter confirms his view that I 
am the great Irreconcilable still at 
large in this blessed satrapy." Later he 
wrote of "a storm of execration" 
against him in Johannesburg, espe- 
cially by the mining houses. In a long 
poem by Sir Owen Seaman Punch 
caricatured him unflatteringly. 

Yet after Miss Hobhouse's unpar- 
donable indiscretion he bore her no ill- 
will, but wrote as before. His letters 
were full of the Chinese problem and 



of queries whether a swing towards a 
Liberal Government was already 
discernible, and whether she thought, 
if the Liberals came into power, they 
would "stop Chinese importation". He 
was much depressed: "I see no ray of 
hope," he wrote in May, 1904. 

During the First World War Miss 
Hobhouse turned as pro-German as 
she had previously been pro-Boer and 
denounced my father for his part in the 
war against Germany. She said some 
hasty things for which my mother has 
never forgiven her. But my father 
remembered only the good work she 
did amongst the Boer families. He 
realised that Miss Hobhouse was that 
earnest type of soul who always 
championed an underdog. It was 
through Miss Hobhouse that we were 
to get to know the Gillett family of 
Oxford. Mrs. Gillett (nee Clark) work- 



ed with Miss Hobhouse at one stage 
out here teaching weaving crafts to 
Boer women. The Gilletts became my 
father's lifelong friends. 

Milner himself did not like the idea of 
importing Chinese labour at first. It 
was only when his reconstruction 
programme became endangered that 
he warmed to it. Once he had made up 
his mind he was inflexible. In June, 
1904, the Chinese started to come. By 
the end of the year there were 23,000 
Chinese on the mines and eventually 
by December, 1908, about 54,000. 

The people in South Africa, with the 
exception of the mineowners and 
shareholders, were enraged. Serious 
crime on the Rand had become 
disturbing since the arrival of the 
Orientals. People lived in fear of their 
safety. The clamour against the 
Chinese was constant and vehement. 




It was to echo all the way across the 
seas to England, though by the time it 
reached there, it had assumed a 
different meaning. In England the by- 
word became "Slavery". It was the 
hardship of the Chinese coolies they 
pitied there, these poor indentured 
creatures cooped up brutally in mine 
"prisons"! Campbell-Bannerman cried 
loudly in protest against the "slave- 
laws" and the "indentured labour". 
The British are a kind-hearted, if often 
misconstruing, people, and they took 
this propaganda to their hearts. Camp- 
bell-Bannerman' s protests gathered in 
force, and the clamour against the 
Government mounted to such effect 
that by December, 1905, it sufficed at 
a general election to unseat them and 
bring in the Liberals. 

Before this, however, Milner's term of 
office had expired and he was on his 



way back to England, where now he 
was to spend ten years in the political 
wilderness. 

On 2nd April, 1905, my father wrote 
to the departing Governor: "Will you 
allow me to wish you a bon voyage 
now that you are leaving South Africa 
for ever? I am afraid you have not 
liked us. But I cherish the hope that, as 
our memories grow mellower, and the 
nobler features of our respective ideas 
become clearer, we shall more and 
more appreciate the contribution of 
each to the formation of the happier 
South Africa which is certainly 
coming, and judge more kindly of 
each other. 

"At any rate it is a consolation to think 
what is noble in our work will grow to 
larger issues than we foresaw, and that 
even our mistakes will be covered up 
ultimately, not only in merciful 



oblivion, but also in that unconscious 
forgiveness which seems to me to be 
an inherent feature of all historic 
growth. History writes the word 
'reconciliation' over all her quarrels, 
and will surely write it over the 
unhappy differences which have 
agitated us in the past. What is good in 
our work is not disposed of in the 
present but can safely appeal to the ear 
of the future. Our respective 
contentions will reach a friendly 
settlement which no one foresees 
today." 

My father stigmatised the Milner 
Administration of 1902-5, "the darkest 
period in the history of the Transvaal". 
Milner himself considered his work 
during this period as the best of his 
life. My father was to meet him again 
in the First World War. By that time 
his period of adversity had had a 



mellowing effect and he was an easy 
and pleasant person to work with. 
They became firm friends. 

Lord Selborne succeeded Milner and 
proved a wise choice. He was a quiet, 
kindly and understanding man, with 
wide sympathies, keen on farming and 
affairs of the land, and with his 
coming there was an instant 
improvement in the atmosphere. He 
was a good friend to Botha and my 
father. 

On my father's thirty-fifth birthday 
Lord Selborne spoke of him as "Mr. 
Smuts, that brilliant lawyer, the 
brilliant soldier". 



20 : Responsible Government 

Meanwhile, in the Transvaal the 
Afrikaans people had founded the Het 
Volk party under the leadership of 
Botha, de la Rey and my father. Its 
objects were responsible government 
and conciliation between the two 
white races. The offer of 
representation under the Lyttelton 
Constitution was still too near the 
Crown Colony type of representation 
to make possible its acceptance by 
them. They wanted full responsible 
representation. 

With Campbell-Bannerman in power 
my father was hopeful and active. In 
1906 he left for England quietly and 
unobtrusively, but not so quietly but 
that the press took notice. In London 
he stayed at Horrex's Hotel, in the 
Strand, where Kruger had put up 
previously. He told reporters that he 



had come on private business. They 
were not convinced. The world had 
begun to realise that his presence 
always meant something. 

His mission was to see the Liberal 
Government on the question of 
Responsible Government. But it was 
difficult to know how to approach 
them, for of their front-benchers he 
had so far met only Winston Churchill. 
So he saw Churchill, first, but 
Churchill was frankly dubious. Morley 
he saw next, but though he had 
previously been pro-Boer, he now said 
there was public opinion to consider. 

Campbell-Bannerman asked him why 
he had refused Milner's first offer of 
representation on the Legislative 
Council. My father's reply was that it 
would have led only to friction, for 
that government was appointed and 
not elected. It would have left the Boer 



minority on the Council with no power 
except to talk. They would have been 
bitterly criticised by their people. The 
Lyttelton Constitution was hardly any 
better. There was only one solution, 
that of self-government. 

"I went on explaining," my father said. 
"I could see Campbell-Bannerman was 
listening sympathetically. Without 
being brilliant he was the sort of 
personality - large-hearted and honest 
- on whom people depended. He 
reminded me of Botha. Such men get 
things done. He told me there was to 
be a Cabinet meeting the next day and 
said, 'Smuts, you have convinced 
me.'" That talk settled the future of 
South Africa. 10 



1 Quoted from Sarah Gertrude Millin. 



Campbell-Bannerman addressed his 
Cabinet. Lloyd George is said to have 
told Lord Riddell: "It was all done in a 
ten-minute speech at the Cabinet - the 
most dramatic, the most important ten 
- minute speech delivered in our 
time... At the outset only two of us 
were with him... But his speech 
convinced the whole Cabinet. It was 
the utterance of a plain, kindly, simple 
man. The speech moved at least one 
member of the Cabinet to tears. It was 
the most impressive thing I ever saw." 
Britain extended the hand of 
friendship and understanding. 

My father returned to South Africa a 
proud man. He considered this one of 
the greatest achievements of his life. 
He said it was "one of the wisest 
political settlements ever made in the 
history of the English nation". 



The Lyttelton Constitution was 
revoked and in May a Royal 
Commission came to Pretoria to settle 
the details of responsible government. 

A photo of Campbell-Bannerman to 
this day hangs behind my father's desk 
in his study. He felt warmly for the 
kindness shown him. At his study 
door, in an equally commanding 
position, hangs a photo of Paul 
Kruger, the other man to whom he was 
eternally grateful. 

In December, 1906, the Transvaal was 
accorded Responsible Government 
and the Orange River Colony shortly 
after. Said my father: "They gave us 
back our country in everything but 
name. After four years. Has such a 
miracle of trust and magnanimity ever 
happened before? Only people like the 
English could do it. They may make 
mistakes, but they are a big people." 



In 1906 my father was appointed a 
King's Counsellor, to the disgust of 
General Hertzog, who considered it a 
despised British appendage. 

Meanwhile things were going better in 
the country. The mines once more 
became prosperous, and with that the 
prosperity of the whole country took 
on a new lease. The repatriation of the 
Chinese now began. They had served 
their purpose and local natives could 
take over the work. But the evacuation 
was not to be complete till March, 
1910. 

In Het Volk the leadership had now 
clearly passed into the hands of Botha 
and my father. They were an ideal 
partnership: my father provided the 
brain and drive, Botha the solid 
personal side in contact with all types 
of people. They had frequently 
discussed the future as they sat on the 



stoep of Botha's house in Sunnyside 
and had decided to devote their efforts 
to the rebuilding of a united South 
African nation. To this purpose they 
travelled the country making speeches. 
Their theme was always conciliation 
and goodwill. The response was 
gratifying. 

In the Orange River Colony General 
Hertzog had, in 1905, founded the 
Orangia Unie. It was built on the 
narrower lines of nationalism and 
Afrikanderism. Hertzog had not in him 
that breadth of view or the forgiving 
nature that stamps the statesman. He 
was irrevocably ingrained with the 
hard kernel of Afrikanderism which no 
reason or argument could shake. It was 
the obstinate, almost blind, 
unreasonableness of the Boer race. So 
far it had not become a major problem, 
but as the years passed the Orangia 



Unie was to diverge further and further 
from the paths of conciliation and to 
harden to a tone of great bitterness; it 
was to initiate a two-stream policy 
from which even her best friends have 
been unable to save South Africa. 
Hertzogism was a canker with small 
beginnings, but it was deep-seated and 
grew steadily, undermining South 
African nationhood. It was too big a 
burden to thrust on to a small, war- 
ravaged country. 

The electioneering campaign of Botha 
and my father in the Transvaal was 
designed to counter the Hertzog cult. 
Nor were their efforts at conciliation 
unsuccessful, for they gained support 
from considerable British elements 
who came forward to join their party. 

In February, 1907, elections were held 
for the Responsible Government. The 
upper house was appointed by 



nomination. On the 28th July, 1906, 
my father spoke at Ventersdorp of "a 
new and great nation, neither Boer nor 
British, but a nation that shall make 
South Africa into a big, free country". 

The Chinese must go, he said 
repeatedly. At Daspoort near Pretoria 
he said on the 23rd January, 1907: 
"The introduction of the Chinese was a 
crime. We shall not rest until the last 
Chinaman has left the shores of South 
Africa." Yet at the same time he was 
quick to reassure the mines that this 
would not be done precipitately or to 
their detriment. "No Chinese will be 
allowed to leave unless proper 
substitutes have been previously 
found." 

On the 14th November, 1906, the 
Johannesburg Star praised my father 
for his consistency, saying there was 
nothing in his past of which he had 



reason to be ashamed, but at the same 
time it remarked that "we happen to 
regard Mr. Smuts as a particularly 
dangerous political guide for a young 
British Colony". 

In February, 1907, the elections were 
held and of the total or 69 seats Het 
Volk had 37, with the diehard British 
Progressives securing only 21. Six 
went to the Affiliated Nationalists 
(Responsibles) and 5 to Labour and 
Independents. George Farrar was 
leader of the Progressives and 
Christian Beyers Speaker of the 
House. Sir Lionel Philips was 
President of the Chamber of Mines. 

At about this time the English press 
for the first time began referring 
consistently to my father as General 
Smuts. There was considerable talk at 
the time of making him Premier, for in 
ability and intellectual attributes he 



had no equal in the Government. 
Wisely, and at the same time with due 
modesty, he deprecated such a move. 
He wrote to Merriman, "I think it 
would be a mistake to take precedence 
over Botha who is really one of the 
finest men South Africa has ever 
produced." To Dr. F.V. Engelenberg 
he wrote in similar vein: "I agree with 
you that no one more than General 
Botha is entitled to appreciation and 
gratitude. The victory of the people's 
party at the polls is largely due to his 
constant labours... These excellent 
services deserve to be worthily 
recognised." 

Louis Botha was eight years older than 
my father, and a British subject of 
Natal by birth. Where my father was 
light of bone structure and slender of 
build, Botha was big-boned and 
massive, with a frame in later life so 



heavy that it sapped his vitality. He 
was of a dark almost swarthy 
complexion, with prominent black 
bushy eyebrows and big protruding 
eyes - a pleasant handsome face with 
features suggesting humour and 
kindness rather than intellectual fire. 
Botha was by nature and outlook a 
farmer, with all a farmer's liking for 
protracted conversation, coffee and 
tobacco, and always accessible and 
approachable. At the same time there 
was in him something solid, which 
suggested the massiveness of the 
mountains of his birthplace. 

With the Boer people Botha's stature 
and popularity were unsurpassed. 
They could feel he was one of them. 
Of his transparent honesty and 
integrity there was never a question. 
What he lacked in education he made 
up in human understanding, and he 



had displayed rare powers of 
leadership in the old Transvaal Volks- 
raad, and in the war. His one grave 
disability was that he spoke little 
English and his efforts to learn it at 
this stage of his career were too 
belated. 

My own childhood memories of 
General Botha are those of a big jovial 
man, ample of girth and friendly of 
demeanour. When my father was away 
on the German East African campaign 
he came to see how we were all 
getting on at Irene, and on one 
occasion found my little sister and 
myself down with whooping cough 
and my poor mother worn out with 
looking after us. Kind soul that he 
was, he took us each in his arms and 
carried us around till we were asleep. 

My father's association with Louis 
Botha dated back to the days of the 



Volksraad in Pretoria. The friendship 
was formed in the testing days of the 
war, and it was clinched during those 
great days of planning the future of the 
country. It was the closest public 
friendship my father formed in his life; 
it was, he said, the intimate friendship 
of brothers. 

In all matters the partnership 
functioned admirably, for both were 
selfless men working only for the 
good of their country. Botha was the 
solid power, my father the dynamic 
planner and phenomenal worker. 
While Botha talked and contacted 
people, my father sat in his office 
working, always working, running not 
only his own portfolios but those of 
most of the Cabinet as well. Union 
Cabinets in those days, to a much 
greater extent than at present, carried a 
lot of dead-wood, and ministers were 



as yet inexperienced in the tasks of 
government. My father did their 
thinking and their work for them. He 
also did much of General Botha's, for 
the General's lack of English often 
kept him out of the House. 

My father said he seldom in life had 
worked harder than during that period. 
It is said he was even curt and off- 
hand with deputations, though I find it 
hard to credit that. 

At the same time he still found time to 
be cheerful and informal at home. The 
pleasant old Stellenbosch pastime of 
reading poetry aloud returned to the 
house, and my mother says they even 
sang volkslieder and Scottish songs 
together, she playing the accom- 
paniment on the piano. 

In the new Government my father was 
appointed Colonial Secretary and 



Minister of Education. His vigour and 
forcefulness and his administrative 
ability were plain, and cartoons in the 
press stressed the multiplicity of the 
man. 

Botha went to England almost 
immediately after the formation of the 
Cabinet, leaving my father, the 
youngest member, in charge. He took 
an early opportunity to pay an official 
visit to the Portuguese in Delagoa Bay, 
and shortly after went to take a look at 
Beira, travelling via Salisbury. 

During this period his work was 
noteworthy for perhaps four major 
items of legislation. The first was the 
Education Bill, which stands in 
principle to this day. It was in essence 
one of language equality. All 
education was put under government 
control; English was made a 
compulsory language and Dutch 



optional. At the same time, to obviate 
any possible Church interference, all 
denominational religious education 
was banned. My father felt "it might 
have been better if we had only one 
language, but we must deal with facts 
and find a solution". Religion was 
introduced because, "this is a Christian 
country. Nine-tenths of the population 
are Christian and wish their children to 
be educated in the Christian manner... 
No clergyman will be allowed to come 
into the schools... There are different 
opinions... The educational system of 
the country shall not be run by the 
Churches." He piloted his Bills 
skilfully through the House. The 
Volkstem said, "Oom Jannie has a way 
of dealing with a complicated matter 
as if it were the simplest thing on 
earth." 



Next came his stand against Labour. 
His offer of relief employment at two 
shillings per day, with keep, was flatly 
rejected by Labour, whose demands 
were five shillings plus keep, and 
relief in forms specific to their own 
choice. On my father's thirty-seventh 
birthday three hundred disgruntled 
men marched from Johannesburg to 
Pretoria to press their case. It looked 
as though matters might get out of 
hand so he called out two British 
regiments, the Cameron's and the 
Queen's Bays, to patrol the Reef. The 
trouble subsided, but a cry was raised 
that foreign troops had been used in a 
domestic affair. At the time, however, 
there was no option. 

Thirdly came the unpleasantness over 
the Cullinan diamond. This superb 
gem of 3,025 carats was discovered 
near Pretoria On 26th January, 1905. 



Its value was beyond computation, but 
it was provisionally insured for 
£250,000. Botha and my father 
thought it might be a fine and worthy 
gesture for this new colony to present 
the stone to the King. 

The Boers supported the motion, but 
the English members were critical and 
hostile, pointing out that it scarcely 
befitted an impoverished small 
country to be so magnanimous. An 
acrimonious debate raged for two days 
before the motion was passed. My 
father was prompted to remark 
scathingly that, "When I see the 
Knight Commanders and D.S.O.'s rise 
and unblushingly oppose the motion it 
shows me that although there may be 
great financial power among them, 
there is little political insight." And 
political insight on my father's side 
there certainly was, for the ink was 



still drying on the deed of gift when 
London sanctioned the £5,000,000 
Land Bank Loan which was so 
essential to the Transvaal. 

The fourth matter referred to the 
Indians. My father's trouble with 
Gandhi began in July, 1907. It never 
really finished. By the time an Indian 
assassin's bullet ended Gandhi's life in 
1948 the whole Commonwealth had 
become involved with this diminutive 
man. 

It was almost by accident that he came 
to be connected with South Africa. 



21 : Gandhi 

In 1893 a court case was pending in 
Pretoria which involved Indian 
interests. Gandhi came out to Africa to 
defend the case. His journey up from 
Durban to Pretoria was an eventful 
one,, for it introduced him drastically 
to the system of race discrimination, 
known as the colour bar, which 
operated in this country. It did not help 
him that he had spent five years 
studying Law in London and was a 
man of culture. The colour bar was a 
hard-and-fast innovation working 
regardless of all these things. Gandhi 
learned this in the train on the way up. 
First a European refused to sit in the 
same compartment and to save face 
Gandhi got out of the train and spent 
the night on Pietermaritzburg Station. 
Near Standerton the following day he 
had a disagreement with the conductor 



of another train which ended in his 
having his ears boxed. He changed 
carriages and proceeded uneventfully 
to Johannesburg. There he was told 
hotels were full, and had to change 
into his frock coat and top hat in a 
cloakroom. Once more he took a first- 
class ticket and proceeded to Pretoria, 
where he arrived at night. Not being in 
possession of a "pass", a document all 
non-Europeans have to carry at night, 
he was arrested. 

Needless to say this reception did not 
endear the Transvaal to him. For all 
his diminutive size he was a man of 
moral courage and tenacity. He spent 
only a few days in Pretoria before 
returning to Durban on the way home, 
but there he learned from a newspaper 
that Natal was about to disenfranchise 
the Indians. It was, so far as Natal was 
concerned, a measure of self- 



protection to ensure that the country 
should remain white. The Indian 
people were breeding like rabbits and 
the country was fast becoming 
swamped by them. Even a £3 annual 
head tax had not deterred them from 
coming to South Africa. 

Gandhi saw there was work for him to 
do in South Africa. He drew up a 
petition of protest against the Bill. For 
three years he stayed in Natal, 
organising the Natal Indian Congress, 
a forerunner of the Congress Party of 
India he was to initiate later. In India, 
where he went for a holiday, he 
painted such lurid stories of the 
brutality of the white man and the 
disabilities of the non-whites, that 
people wanted to lynch him on his 
return to South Africa in s.s. 
Courtland. 



During the Boer War he formed a 
corps of Indian stretcher-bearers which 
were attached to the British. 

In 1903 he decided to return to the 
Transvaal, but Milner did not want 
him or any other Indians back again. 
Eventually a compromise was arrived 
at whereby such Indians as had their 
thumbprints taken might return. 
Gandhi enrolled as a qualified attorney 
and practised in the Supreme Court of 
the Transvaal. In 1904 the Indian 
cause suffered a severe setback, for 
after continuous heavy rains, cholera 
broke out in their community in 
Johannesburg. The case against having 
Indians in the Transvaal was now 
strong. After a further effort at 
stretcher-bearing in a minor Zulu 
rebellion in 1906 Gandhi went to 
England to plead the cause of the 
Indians. He was told to wait, as the 



Transvaal was just then about to be 
granted Responsible Government. 

In July, 1907, he organised his first 
Passive Resistance campaign and was 
joined by a thousand Chinese under 
Leong Quinn. In August my father 
warned him that he would not tolerate 
breaches of the law "and if the Indians 
resisted they would only have 
themselves and their leaders to blame 
for the consequences". Gandhi's reply 
was that he was merely striving for the 
repeal of the Asiatic Land Amendment 
Act, and for the recognition of the 
status of educated Indians. 

The first Transvaal parliament shortly 
afterwards passed severe immigration 
laws which demanded the taking of the 
fingerprints of the entire hand to 
obviate forging of documents. A 
deadline for finger-printing was set at 
30th November. Gandhi failed to 



comply and marched at the head of a 
crowd into the Central Prison in 
Pretoria, where he was detained for a 
year. 

While in prison, in an interview with 
my father, he endeavoured to arrive at 
a compromise, but my father assured 
him that only Parliament could alter its 
own Act. At the next sitting the 
Asiatic Act and Immigration Act were 
repealed and Indians already in the 
Transvaal had their certificates made 
valid, but no further Asiatic 
immigration was permitted. Gandhi 
claimed this was a breach of my 
father's promise, and he and his 
followers burned their certificates in 
protest. 

We were not quite finished with 
Gandhi yet. Some years after, when 
the Union of the four Provinces had 
already been completed, he demanded 



the repeal of the £3 head-tax of Natal. 
He demonstrated by marching at the 
head of 3,000 Indians across the Natal 
border into the Transvaal, where he 
was promptly arrested and removed to 
Bloemfontein gaol. 

By this time the dark clouds of World 
War I were already blowing up, and 
Britain, desirous of maintaining the 
goodwill of her peoples in India, 
interceded on India's behalf. Gandhi 
was released, and just as the war burst 
upon the world in 1914 he sailed for 
India, never again to return to these 
shores. 

It is said that once or twice in this 
tussle Gandhi got the better of my 
father. This is a distortion of facts. 
Gandhi's cause had been, as he 
himself had said, the removal of 
discriminating immigration laws and 
the recognition of the educated Indian. 



He not only achieved neither of these 
aims, but even failed to make any 
headway. His only achievement had 
been to get the repeal of the two Bills 
in 1907, and this, in effect, had no 
material bearing on his ambitions. His 
outwitting by my father had been 
complete, and it was in this sense of 
failure that he set out dejectedly to 
brood and scheme in India. 

The 6,000 Indians originally imported 
had by 1950 multiplied to a quarter of 
a million. The Indian's tendency to 
increase prolifically, coupled with his 
ability to live frugally and undersell 
the white man, as well as to exploit the 
African native, has created one of 
South Africa's most serious problems. 
The situation is further complicated by 
the fact that the problems of India and 
Empire are often projected on to our 
domestic ones. In 1911 further 



immigration of Indians into the 
country was prohibited, but the 
movement still progresses apace in the 
remainder of British Africa. 

Gandhi had, however, succeeded in 
stirring up a hornets' nest in the 
relations between India and South 
Africa, which to this day grows more 
acrimonious and dangerous. An ideal 
platform has been afforded them in the 
Chambers of the United Nations 
Organisation. It is a disturbing 
problem and its end appears more 
distant than ever. By now it has 
assumed the guise of the iniquity of 
discrimination against all non-white 
races, and to Britain, as a colonial 
power, it is proving most 
embarrassing. 

Gandhi, though clashing frequently 
with my father in the old days, was an 
understanding and forgiving person 



and bore no grudge. In fact, even when 
he really had reason to feel sore with 
my father, at the time when he spent a 
year in Pretoria Central Gaol, he 
showed his friendly spirit by making 
my father a stout pair of leather 
sandals. These, like Gandhi's 
friendship, my father kept safely 
through the years. 

At the end of the first session of the 
new government the Johannesburg 
Star remarked: "Practically the whole 
of the government business has fallen 
to Mr. Smuts, who dominates and 
overshadows his party. Opinions may 
differ about the value of his 
achievements in practical legislation... 
but it would be churlish to refuse to 
recognise the colossal industry and 
persuasive tact which the Colonial 
Secretary has almost always brought 
to his parliamentary duties." The 



"Mr." denotes that the Star was at that 
time no particular disciple of my 
father's. 



22 : National Convention 

Meanwhile a new trend had become 
discernible in politics. It was an urge 
for "closer union". That such ideas 
should arise was perhaps a natural 
sequel to the constant stream of 
goodwill, co-operation and 

conciliation that was being preached, 
not only by Botha and my father in the 
Transvaal, but also in the Cape, where 
Merriman (the Prime Minister), F.S. 
Malan and Dr. Jameson strongly 
supported the idea. 

Lord Selborne, the Governor, was 
asked, as Milner had been, to achieve 
federation. He was convinced from 
what he saw that the Crown Colony 
constitution was unsuited to the 
diverse conditions in South Africa. 
Strangely enough, by their haggling 
the railways were a source of division 
rather than a bond of union. Selborne 



realised that it was no use waiting, as 
Milner had done, till the British 
section in the country were strong 
enough to write the federal 
constitution. In fact, by the end of 
1906 it was perfectly clear that the 
Boers were rapidly overtaking the 
British, and that the latter would never 
be strong enough to dictate this 
constitution. It was now clear that the 
Boers would write this document. 

But in the Orange River Colony Steyn 
and Hertzog displayed scant interest. 
In a memo Lord Selborne strongly 
urged the desirability of a closer 
integration as the best solution to a 
number of problems that only really 
arose because of the artificially 
separate entity of the four Colonies. 

Botha had already taken the first step 
by discussing with the Chief Justice of 



the Cape 11 the desirability of 
establishing a federal court of appeal. 
It was most desirable to standardise 
the legal code. 

In May, 1908, a conference was 
called, ostensibly to adjust customs 
differences and railway problems. 
Here my father proposed six 
resolutions, which were seconded by 
Mr. Merriman, demanding "a national 
convention to discuss the closer 
political and economic union of the 
South African colonies". These 
resolutions were passed and later duly 
ratified by the four Parliaments. 

11 J. Henry de Villiers, first Baron de Villiers 
(1842-1914), was a South African by birth. He 
was called to the Bar of the Inner Temple in 
1865, became Attorney-General for the Cape 
of Good Hope in 1872 and the following year 
was appointed Lord Chief Justice. He was 
raised to the peerage in 1910. 



Though the urge for closer relationship 
was strong, there were no less strong 
controversial problems in the detail of 
this move. Many influential people felt 
the project would be detrimental to 
their own interests, and the Provinces 
were one and all chary lest they should 
lose power and identity through the 
marriage. The Transvaal and Cape 
were really the only two that had solid 
assets to offer. Natal and the Orange 
River Colony were insignificant by 
comparison. The Transvaal was 
fabulously rich. The others were but 
poor neighbours. It was obvious that 
the major sacrifices would devolve 
upon the Transvaal. Much as the other 
provinces coveted the wealth of this 
jewel-box, they had strong 
reservations on questions of language 
and of personal prestige. Natal was no 
lover of the dual language system, and 



the Orange River Colony had rooted 
antipathies to English. 

Union did not appeal to the Reef. 
Uitlander pro-British ideas were 
running as strongly as ever and there 
were fears, possibly not unfounded, 
that an Afrikaner bloc might be set up. 

Here was a delicate, almost 
insuperable problem that would test 
the best in statesmanship. The only 
way of tackling it was the long and 
hard way of patience and persuasion. 
My father, more than others, was 
aware of the difficulties and pitfalls 
that beset the way. On these he 
touched briefly in a letter to Chief 
Justice Sir Henry de Villiers on 22nd 
July, 1907: 

... from a purely selfish point of view 
the Transvaal has little to gain from 
federation. Economically the strongest 



factor in the South African situation, it 
is also largely independent of any 
particular colony, and can therefore 
view the situation with comparative 
equanimity. Hence the chief danger 
and opposition will always come from 
the Transvaal, where you have a 
strong section who would prefer to 
snap their fingers at the rest of British 
South Africa, and another equally 
strong section who see in Federation 
only a consolidation of "Dutch" in- 
fluence, and therefore an issue to be 
fought at all hazards. Besides these 
two you have here a third section who 
say that federation is near Chauvinism, 
and that it would be better far to 
devote our energies to less showy 
tasks, to repair the losses of the past, 
to further the material welfare of the 
people, before we begin a federation 
policy. 



A fourth section (chiefly, I believe, 
represented by the older and wiser 
generation of politicians at the Cape) 
exhorts us to achieve national unity 
first before we attempt political unity. 
What with all these views and the real 
difficulties of the situation, the cause 
of federation is by no means assured 
as far as the immediate future is 
concerned. And I don't think it is 
really advanced by a one-sided 
statement such as the memo attached 
to Lord Selborne's minute. 

But I do not despair. We who love 
South Africa as a whole, who have our 
ideal of her, who wish to substitute the 
idea of a united South Africa for the 
lost independence, who see in breadth 
of horizon, in a wider and more 
embracing statesmanship, the cure for 
many of our ills and the only escape 
from the dreary pettiness and 



bickering of the past - we are prepared 
to sacrifice much - not to Natal or the 
Cape, but to South Africa. 

Next year, no doubt, Federation 
Commissions will be appointed from 
the various South African parliaments 
to go into the matter. But the real 
tussle will probably come in February 
or March of next year when the 
Railways and Customs Conference 
will have to take place. That will 
probably be the most important 
Conference to be held in South Africa 
for many a day, and on its issue will 
largely depend the cause of Union or 
Federation. I sincerely hope that the 
various colonies will send their very 
best men to that Conference, which I 
hope will be held at Pretoria. If we 
succeed in establishing an economic 
union, not on mere patchwork lines 
but on a broad and permanent policy 



which will do away with all local 
friction and irritation, I do not see why 
we should not soon move further and 
convert this economic into a political 
union. 

The subject is most difficult and in 
many ways awkward for a Transvaal 
politician, but I shall always do my 
best to keep the larger aspect of the 
case before me and to contribute 
something towards the achievement of 
permanent union. If the end of all our 
past losses and sufferings is the attain- 
ment of a united South Africa in which 
its people will find peace and 
satisfaction, that will indeed be a great 
day. I hope you, who have done so 
much to keep before South Africans 
that wider outlook, will live to see that 
day. I shall do my best to hasten it by 
all legitimate means, though you much 



over-rate my influence in this 
connection... 

As regards the Court of Appeal I quite 
agree with what I gather to be your 
view - that if federation is at all 
possible, it should be part and parcel 
of a federation settlement of South 
Africa. Should federation be relegated 
by the developments of the immediate 
future to a more distant day, then the 
Appeal Court will have to be 
considered by itself. 

The Transvaal government are doing 
their best to pave the way for larger 
things by a policy of conciliation 
conceived on broad South African 
lines. The outlook economically is far 
from bright, but on all hands one 
notices a desire on the part of the 
various sections of the population to 
let bygones be bygones and to draw 
together in spite of or perhaps because 



of disappointments and adversity. I 
hope the same spirit will also prevail 
in other parts of South Africa and that 
politicians will recognise that our 
strength does not lie in isolation, but in 
union. 

In that way Union will come about not 
as a forced thing but as a ripe fruit 
fallen from the tree. General Botha's 
attitude in England will, I hope, have 
had a beneficial effect all over South 
Africa. In his profound commonsense 
I see deeper statesmanship than in all 
the astuteness and cleverness of 
smaller men. 

The time for a National Convention 
was now ripe. In order to wean the 
Transvaal from her independence and 
isolation my father and Botha toured 
the country extensively, addressing 
many public meetings. 



"We must have Union," he declared 
emphatically. "Two such peoples as 
the Dutch and English must either 
unite or try to exterminate each other. 
There is only one road to salvation ... 
the road to Union ... to a South African 
Nation." 

"The Boer has fought for lus 
independence; the Englishman for his 
Empire; all have fought for what they 
consider highest. ... Now the highest is 
Union... Let us have Union - not of 
top dog and under dog, but of brothers 
... we are now in for a bigger task than 
ever before. Let us see it through... Let 
us make one big South Africa and do 
our best as wise and prudent sons of 
South Africa to start a Union here and 
to rule the country from Table Bay to 
the Congo and even beyond that. Let 
us be inventors of a great South 
Africa." 



It was decided to hold the Convention 
of the four Colonies in Durban. 

My father worked on his brief for the 
conference. The first task was to make 
a thorough study of all the federal and 
union constitutions obtainable in order 
to see which would be most suitable 
for our rather peculiar conditions in 
South Africa. He studied especially the 
American Constitution, of which Walt 
Whitman had given him an intimate 
understanding. It was obviously too 
rigid, however, and it gave the 
separate federal states too much power 
and the central authority too little. 
"We have no right to attempt to 
hamper and bind ourselves down by 
any cast-iron system which only a 
revolution can attend," he decided. 
There was much to be envied in 
England's freedom from a binding 
written constitution, for here there was 



no document limiting the powers of 
Parliament. Yet it was obvious that 
South Africa could not be like that, but 
it would be advantageous if a 
constitution with a maximum 
flexibility could be designed. 

He wrote to Lord de Villiers 
concerning his proposals about Union: 
"The paper represents merely my 
personal opinions. If the main ideas 
are approved, I propose to prepare a 
draft constitution which might largely 
expedite the work of the convention: 
and time is of enormous importance in 
this matter." 

Assisted by experts, including Brand, 
Curtis and members of the 
Kindergarten, he had perfected his 
plans down to the smallest detail. The 
scheme he had devised he submitted to 
the four Provinces for criticism and 
suggestions. With the receipt of these 



he drew up his final memorandum and 
left for Durban. 

Lord de Villiers, Chief Justice of the 
Cape, was appointed chairman of this 
conference. The delegates brought 
with them a high optimism but no 
experience in constitution-making. My 
father had to shepherd them. He had 
thought out everything, even to the 
minutest pitfalls. 

The work of the conference amounted 
to a study and watering down of my 
father's draft. This was necessary if 
the whims, fears and sensitiveness of 
delegates were to be satisfied. Some 
Natal delegates favoured federation 
after the Australian model, but my 
father convinced them that such a 
loose federation would not suit our 
conditions. Something closer was 
desirable. 



It is said that he wanted this closeness 
of union in order that he might wield 
greater personal power, as he had done 
in the Transvaal Parliament. This is no 
more than sensational journalism. My 
father was never a seeker of power for 
power's sake. There was nothing 
personal in his desire for power. 
Power was obviously required to 
provide the great cohesive effort 
which would be necessary to keep the 
four strange bed-fellows together. 
Power was merely a means to an 
ultimate national end. It provided the 
authority for good legislation and 
leadership. 

Even the sultry summer heat of 
Durban did not deter him though the 
majority of the delegates wilted 
visibly. 

In his Inner History of the South 
African Convention, Sir Edgar Walton 



gives an account of my father's 
opening address at the Conference: 

In his opening sentences at the 
National Convention which decided 
on Union and drafted our present 
constitution, General Smuts appealed 
to the Convention to fix their minds on 
great principles and not to allow their 
work to be spoiled by too much 
attention to material interests or 
difficulties of the day. Material 
interests were evanescent, the 
problems of the future would not be 
the problems of today, and they were 
working for the future and were 
endeavouring to lay down a 
constitution which the people of South 
Africa would live under for many 
generations to come. 

There were three points which he 
thought the delegates should bear in 
mind. In the first place they must trust 



the people of South Africa and must 
trust each other. Distrust and suspicion 
would be fatal. They must also trust 
future South Africans, trust their 
wisdom, and they had no right to 
hamper them and bind them down by 
any cast-iron system or constitution 
which only a revolution could amend. 
In the second place he urged an open 
mind on the part of the delegates and 
hoped they would avoid the danger of 
following too closely the precedent 
handed down to them by former 
constitution framers. They should 
endeavour to profit by the errors and 
experiences of other countries and 
with their own knowledge of South 
Africa do their best to solve the special 
problems of this country. In the third 
place their problem was easier of 
solution than that of either Canada or 
Australia. Canada was divided by race, 



religion and interest, Australia was 
economically divided, while in South 
Africa we already had a Customs 
Union and other close connections. 

Turning to the resolution General 
Smuts pointed out that they had before 
them three courses. They might adopt 
federation, or a Union such as that of 
the United Kingdom, or they might 
take the middle course suggested by 
Mr. Merriman of a Legislative Union 
with a system of provincial govern- 
ment under the authority of the central 
power. With regard to the first, in his 
opinion, federation was inapplicable to 
South Africa. Federation, he took it, 
was a treaty or a pact, an agreement 
between independent powers. In South 
Africa they were not independent 
powers, but brothers. 

Let them study the history of the 
United States of America, let them see 



what grave trouble had arisen purely 
from the nature of the Constitution. 
Such a machinery for legislation 
would be unworkable in South Africa, 
for the sovereign power was so 
dispersed as to be ineffective for the 
essential purposes of civilised 
government. In South Africa we 
already had adopted the British system 
of responsible government, which 
worked well and which the people 
understood; in the United States of 
America they had a Legislature, one 
Chamber of which represented the 
people and the other represented the 
States, and they found the power of 
the Upper Chamber or Senate 
increasing. In those States there was 
no power responsible for order among 
the States, no power to punish wrong- 
doing by a State. In establishing the 
Commonwealth of Australia they 



adopted the American principle for 
forming Parliaments and for investing 
the individual States with sovereign 
power, but the British system of 
responsible government. It would (he 
believed) be found that in Australia the 
real power was vested in the Senate 
and that a deadlock was inevitable. 

They could only be altered by 
unanimous consent. The Constitution 
of the United States had only twice 
been altered, for the difficulties in the 
way of alteration were almost 
insuperable and the States were now 
working under a Constitution made in 
the eighteenth century when the 
conditions of the country were entirely 
different from what they were today. 
Machinery for alteration was devised 
but it was found to be almost 
unworkable and the experience of the 
States was an object-lesson for us. 



The hands of South Africa should not 
be so tied and they had no right to 
shackle future South Africans. He 
supported Mr. Merriman's .contention 
that corruption was almost inevitable 
under federation because power was 
so dispersed that there was no 
authority able to punish and it was 
difficult to fix the responsibility. He 
hoped sincerely that they would avoid 
a situation in South Africa under 
which honest men would decline to 
enter public life. 

The alternative to federation was the 
union as it existed in the British 
Islands. It was, he believed, the most 
successful system the world had ever 
seen and it was a model which all free 
people could safely copy. It was true 
that in Great Britain there was a 
demand for greater local powers and 
with a sovereign parliament in the 



United Kingdom it was possible to 
delegate any powers which it was 
necessary for localities to exercise. It 
was now being contemplated to grant 
such powers to Ireland and to carry 
that measure would merely require an 
Act of the Imperial Parliament. They 
were told that there were exceptional 
difficulties in South Africa and that 
under Union the Central Parliament 
would be overloaded with work and 
become congested. It was also 
objected that the interests of the 
respective Colonies were very diver- 
gent and required special attention. 
There were the wine farmers of the 
western side of the Cape, the tea and 
sugar planters of Natal, the gold mines 
of the Transvaal and the diamond 
mines, and it was urged that one 
Central Parliament would be unable to 
do all the work required of it to the 



satisfaction of South Africa and that 
therefore there must be local Parlia- 
ments to control and promote local 
interests. 

General Smuts said he had much 
sympathy with that argument, but in 
his opinion South Africa required a 
whipping boy and that whipping boy 
would be most safely found in the 
Central Government and Central 
Parliament. To meet the argument 
advanced he was in favour of a Central 
Sovereign Parliament together with 
local Legislatures (Provincial 

Councils), with delegated and defined 
powers and, of course, subject to the 
Central Parliament. In his opinion that 
middle course would give the least 
possible occasion for friction in the 
future for it could accommodate itself 
to the needs of the people from time to 
time and the powers of the local 



Legislatures could be extended or 
curtailed as occasion demanded. What 
was essential was that they must create 
machinery which "will work" and that 
they must as far as was humanly 
possible ensure themselves against 
future trouble or deadlock. 

Finally, and in solemn and impressive 
words, General Smuts urged the 
Convention to remember that if they 
were not successful in drafting a 
constitution which South Africa would 
accept, if they were not able to bring 
about union in South Africa, then there 
was grave trouble in the future for 
their common country. Union, he 
believed, was the only means of 
averting terrible disaster and he urged 
upon every delegate present to come to 
a determination that the Convention 
should not separate without having 
come to an agreement. 



Thirty-three men forgathered at the 
Conference - men, Lord Curzon said, 
"whose names a few years ago were 
anathema to each other; men who not 
only would have put each other to 
death, but were within an ace of doing 
so; men who had never before been in 
the same room... And there was not 
one of them who, while loyal to his 
colony or his race or his following, 
was not more loyal to the wider cause 
of South African Union within the 
sheltering embrace of the British 
Empire." 

My father had with him nineteen 
secretaries and advisers, a staff larger 
by half than the total from all the other 
Provinces. This comprehensive staff of 
experts was able to handle all 
problems expeditiously. There could 
be no delay which might impair the 



smooth functioning of the 
deliberations. 

Snags and pitfalls confronted them at 
every turn. There were questions of 
the location of the future capital, to 
which great prestige was attached, and 
a corresponding sensitiveness. There 
was the native problem which was 
much entangled by the question of old 
rights of the coloured folk of the Cape. 
There was the Indian problem. There 
was the highly controversial problem 
of language rights, and many other 
difficulties each of which by itself 
might have been quite capable of 
wrecking the Conference. 

At my father's suggestion it was 
decided, eventually, to leave the native 
problem for solution at some future 
date. He also did his best to steer the 
Conference clear of details and other 
sources of deadlocks. "Give us a 



National Parliament, a national 
executive and trust to them for a 
solution of those questions that have 
troubled us in the past," he pleaded. 

Hertzog was on the point of starting 
his language quarrels in the Free State. 
Had the Convention been held less 
than a year later it would have broken 
down on this. Even now he displayed 
little enthusiasm at the substance of 
the Conference, and at times proved 
somewhat difficult. All his life, in fact, 
he was to prove difficult. For though a 
friendly and chivalrous person, a 
demon seemed to enter his blood once 
he got to his feet at public meetings, 
for his passions would run riot with his 
reasoning, making him say outrageous 
things. He never mastered these 
distressing symptoms; in fact, they 
became aggravated with age. But he 
was never repentant and never 



withdrew anything he said. He was, 
indeed, the stormy petrel of our public 
life. 

But my father remained calm and 
persuasive, and in the end the 
Conference accepted his proposals. 
The convention was later to meet in 
Cape Town and Bloemfontein, where 
further amendments were considered, 
the documents rounded off and the 
final constitution decided upon. This 
proposed constitution was thereafter 
passed by the Parliament of the four 
Colonies. 

"You have probably heard it stated", 
my father declared when the 
constitution was published, "that a 
small number of men, having their 
own ends to serve, rushed this matter 
forward in the face of public apathy 
and public opposition... The 
constitution is not a man's work. It 



bears the impress of a Higher Hand." 
However that may be, the records 
show much of the constitution to have 
been written in his own hand. 

Sir Roderick Jones writing in 
Nineteenth Century, in November, 
1915, wrote thus of the Conference: 
"Often difficulties sprang up from the 
inability of delegates, men of different 
race, of different political parties, and 
from different provinces, to agree 
upon fundamental principles which 
entailed a sacrifice; sentimental or 
material, perhaps both in one direction 
or another. Then it was that Smuts, 
with his nimble brain, his facile pen, 
came to the rescue. The Convention 
after hours of earnest exchange and 
exhausting debate, would adjourn the 
day's proceedings, face to face 
apparently with a deadlock. Next 
morning Smuts would appear on the 



scene with a formula, simple, lucid 
and comprehensive, that reconciled 
what had seemed to be irreconcilable 
and enabled the Convention to proceed 
smoothly to the consideration of the 
next problem... I think all who are 
acquainted with the proceedings of 
that momentous conclave are agreed 
that he, more than any other delegate, 
was the one to whom, in the last 
resort, they looked for sagacious and 
resourceful draughtsmanship." 

A deputation of nine members, led by 
Botha and my father, took the draft 
document to England where it passed 
both Houses of Parliament in due 
course as an Imperial Bill, which, 
before the year was out, was signed by 
the King and became law. Balfour 
described the Bill as "the most 
wonderful issue out of all those 
divisions, controversies, battles, 



bloodshed, devastation and horrors of 
war, and of the difficulties of peace". 
It passed the Commons with only a 
minor amendment concerning 
Asiatics, and then went on to the 
Lords where its passage was equally 
simple. 

While in London Botha, my father, 
Hertzog, Jameson and Steyn were 
invited to lunch with the King. Queen 
Alexandra was wearing the superb 
Cullinan diamonds. 

Before the Act of Union took effect, 
on the 31st May, 1910, the Transvaal 
Parliament had two more tasks to 
perform before being dissolved. Both 
concerned the surplus funds in the 
Treasury. Whatever ideas the other 
Provinces might have had about the 
sharing of this wealth for the common 
weal, the Transvaal had its own ideas. 
She was going to deal with them under 



an old Act which makes provision far 
such unauthorised expenditure, pro- 
viding the Governor puts his signature 
to it. To help introduce a more friendly 
spirit into the Transvaal members of 
parliament, to drive out the last germ 
of isolationism by an act of goodwill, 
and to remunerate the members for 
this premature termination of their 
services, my father decided to give 
them each a bonus of £250. This 
involved a mere £20,000. As the idea 
met with violent opposition, he 
thought it safest to short-circuit the 
Upper House and go straight to the 
Governor for his signature. After a 
great outcry about questions of an 
ethical and constitutional nature, 
Britain finally authorised the 
embarrassed Governor to sign the 
document. My father had got his way 
- not because he wanted to show his 



power, but because he believed it to be 
for the ultimate good of the spirit of 
Union. 

The second item was to vote 
£1,500,000 for the erection of the 
Union Buildings on Meintje's Kop in 
Pretoria. These stand as the greatest 
masterpiece to the credit of Herbert 
Baker, and the finest modern buildings 
in the southern hemisphere. The old 
storm over their erection has turned to 
unabashed adulation. We take pride in 
the noble edifice as one of the finest 
showpieces in our country. But as yet 
Baker's dream is incomplete, for he 
drew up plans for additional buildings 
behind the present one, higher up on 
the Koppie. which may one day 
consummate his vision. 



23 : Union 



Lord Gladstone was appointed 
Governor-General on the recommen- 
dation of Botha and my father, and 
arrived in the beginning of May. His 
first task, the appointment of a Prime 
Minister., was no easy one. Both 
Merriman and Botha had claims. 
Merriman, "the Premier of the Mother 
State of South Africa and the Grand 
Old Man of South African politics", 
had been a member of Parliament 
since the year before my father was 
born. He was a gifted scholar and a 
skilful debater, with a certain caustic 
humour, his oratorical skill being 
unsurpassed by any South African. In 
1924 he retired after sitting fifty-five 
years in Parliament, and was revered 
alike by Boer and Briton. No one in 
the Empire has had a longer or more 



honourable parliamentary career. He 
died two years after his retirement. 

Merriman himself felt strongly about 
his claims to the Premiership. When 
Botha was elected, he felt not only 
hurt but almost betrayed. Botha was 
his inferior in intellect, in age and in 
experience. The old man was frankly 
pessimistic about the future. Some 
years later my father told Parliament, 
"Mr. Merriman admitted to me that he 
had doubted General Botha and 
myself. He used to think that, in the 
hour of trial, we should not stand by 
the policy we preached." He served 
under Botha only with reluctance and 
never again became the great figure he 
had been in the old Cape House. The 
fire had gone out of him. He ascribed 
being overlooked to the fact that King 
Edward did not like him, and the fact 
also that he had antagonised Lord 



Selborne by saying he would decline 
to attend the Convention if Selborne 
presided. More probably his super- 
cession was due to my father's cham- 
pionship of Botha, for Botha would 
carry both the Transvaal and the 
Boers. 

Hertzog and Steyn, significantly, 
backed Merriman. Hertzog was deeply 
jealous of Botha. Consequently, when 
the latter came to draw up his Cabinet 
his chief difficulty lay with Hertzog. 
Yet he was the Free State's first 
choice. At the same time Hertzog was 
also far from persona grata with the 
British, largely because of his quarrel 
on the language position. The English 
press opposed him. 

My father and Botha were much 
worried about Hertzog, for they sensed 
rocks ahead. So my father invited him 
to breakfast at the Mount Nelson Hotel 



where he tried to persuade him to take 
a seat on the Court of Appeal in lieu of 
a Cabinet portfolio. This was flatly 
rejected. People were yet to learn that 
Hertzog could be more stubborn than 
the proverbial mule. He visited the 
Mount Nelson again, this time at 
Botha's invitation. "There", Hertzog 
wrote afterwards, "I was taken by 
General Smuts to his room, where I 
was informed that I should be included 
in the Cabinet with the Portfolio of 
Justice. Afterwards I met General 
Botha, who did not speak a single 
word to me on the subject... There was 
no mistaking the reluctance with 
which the Prime Minister accepted me 
as a colleague." 

There were nine portfolios in the 
Cabinet. My father was given three, all 
important ones: Mines, Defence and 
Interior. 



When, some while later, Botha asked a 
prominent Free Stater, who was later 
elected to the Legislature, what he 
thought of the new Cabinet, the latter 
said: "As far as I can make out they 
are satisfied with it except, perhaps, 
for the inclusion of General Smuts." 
Botha was silent for a while as if 
stifling a feeling of emotion, and then 
burst out, "Old chap, you people don't 
know Jan Smuts yet. Our country is 
still too young to meddle with brains." 

My mother says she has never seen a 
closer friendship than that between 
Botha and my father. She said, "They 
seemed to need each other in their 
work. They could not stay away from 
each other for long before one sent for 
the other, either for help or for 
advice." Its benefits for the country 
were numerous and enriching. 



My father's efforts during the National 
Convention he looked upon as his 
greatest single work for his country. 
He did so not only because the 
constitution which he pushed through 
in the teeth of considerable genuine 
opposition has since stood the test of 
time, but also because his energy and 
drive rushed it through just before it 
grew too late. I think it was success in 
this battle against time he relished as 
much as anything else. 






Meanwhile our old home in Sunnyside 
had settled down happily after its 
ordeals of the war. My father had not 
only repaired the damage to his books, 
but had expanded his collection. The 
shelves were full of a variety of 
volumes, but mostly works on Law 
and travel, Africana and books on 




J.C. Smuts at the wheel of his first car - 1911 



poetry and literature. Books on 
philosophy and science had at this 
stage not crept on to the shelves in any 
profusion. 

The house became a regular staging 
post for people coming in from 
outlying districts, mostly Boer War or 
Government cronies of my father's. 
Schalk Burger stayed there for long 
spells on end, and General Koos de la 
Rey was also a frequent visitor. They 
looked upon the place as a second 
home. 

In the middle of 1903 my mother 
persuaded Deneys Reitz to return from 
his self-imposed exile on Madagascar, 
and thereafter he spent some years 
with us. The draft of his famous book 
Commando had already been scribbled 
in Madagascar between bouts of 
malaria and arduous transport jour- 




J.C. Smuts with the Writer - August 1914. 

neys: He was the chief plunger in the 
big tub in the garden. Sometimes 



justice de Villiers of the Free State 
would also stay with us. He was a 
highly cultured man and would join 
my parents in their music and singing. 

Here my sister Santa was born in 
1903, as well as, in their turn, my 
sister Cato, my brother Japie and my 
sister Sylma. My youngest sister Louis 
and myself were born at Irene, ten 
miles from Pretoria, where my parents 
had gone to live in 1909. There we all 
grew up in the carefree ways of the 
farm. My father lived there till his 
death in 1950. 1 mention this merely in 
passing, for I shall describe Doorn- 
kloof, our farm at Irene, in some detail 
later. 

My father's love of farming is 
reflected in the number of farms he 
acquired at various times, all bought to 
satisfy a possessive, not a speculative 
instinct. After the Boer War he had 



returned to his legal practice in 
Pretoria and this brought him in quite 
a lucrative income, the proceeds of 
which he invested in land. First he 
bought himself, in conjunction with 
his friend Jimmy Roos, two farms 
outside Pretoria, one Onderstepoort 
near the Bon Accord dam, and the 
other Kameelfontein in the hills near 
Premier Mule. The latter attracted him, 
I think, because of its associations 
with the battle of Diamond Hill. Some 
years later this farm was declared an 
alluvial diamond diggings and turned 
upside-down, so he reluctantly sold it. 

In the Western Transvaal, upon the 
advice of his old friend General Koos 
de la Rey, he bought three farms, 
Barberspan, Kromdraai and 

Welgevonden. Though good fertile 
lands and fine farming propositions, 
they were nevertheless in a bleak and 



uninviting flat setting, without trees 
and hills from horizon to horizon, so 
here again I think there was an 
association with the Boer War rather 
than general attractiveness. 

Shortly afterwards followed his 
acquisition of Buffelspan, in the 
massive primeval crater of Pilanders- 
berg, near Rustenburg. Though he 
knew this feature from his operations 
in this vicinity during the war his 
attraction to it was a geological one, 
for it was from this extinct vent that 
the igneous rocks were spewed forth to 
form the beds of the Transvaal 
bushveld. Topographically, too, it was 
attractive country. Not far away on the 
Marico River he bought at about the 
same time two additional farms 
Wydhoek and Klipdrift. These two 
latter farms he never exploited, and in 



about 1930 he sold them when in need 
of funds. 

In 1908 he bought the beautiful farm 
Doornkloof, a few miles outside 
Pretoria, and this purchase probably 
brought him more pleasure and 
satisfaction than any other of his life. 
Lastly, while on campaign in East 
Africa in 1916, during the First World 
War, he bought two farms, Rooikop 
and Droogegrond, in the bushveld near 
Rust der Whiter, fifty miles north-east 
of Pretoria, These two he considered 
good farms and there he conducted 
serious farming operations through a 
manager, with considerable success 
and pride. 

By 1928 he was still in possession of 
ten of these eleven farms, an area 
totalling about 25,000 morgen (53,000 
acres). After that he was soon to sell 
Barberspan and the two farms at Groot 



Marico, but the remainder he kept, in was abstract, and actual ideas of 

1945 making them over by deed of money never entered his head. 

donation to his children. Three of 

these farms he had farmed actively 

himself through managers, but the 

remainder he had fenced in and turned 

over to tenants. 

From what I know of my father I am 
convinced that he acquired these farms 
purely because he was an inveterate 
lover of the land. It was a sort of 
symbolic ritual from which he derived 
great satisfaction but no pecuniary 
gain. Financial aspects never obtruded, 
though he was wont to remark that the 
possession of land afforded a great 
element of security. Perhaps he was 
thinking of his old age. As the years 
went by the farms appreciated many 
times in value, and he was then 
inclined to remark with pride on the 
bargains he had made. But the pride 



24 : The South African Party 



One of the first acts of Botha and my 
father after Union was to form the 
South African Party. It was 
predominantly Afrikaans, comprising 
elements of the Cape Bond, Het Volk 
and the Orangia Unie, together with 
fair numbers of English-speaking 
people. The tide for unity after the 
convention was running strongly, and 
Botha and my father threw themselves 
whole-heartedly into their work. As 
before, my father accomplished the 
lion's share; but he was sorely tried by 
the large number of incompetent 
people who cluttered up the 
Government departments. In his 
impatience he drove them on 
mercilessly to get the work done, and 
this naturally resulted in a certain 
measure of displeasure. No doubt his 
ways were inclined to be autocratic, 



not for personal satisfaction but for the 
common good. In any case, he himself 
was working harder than any of his 
subordinates. 

The period of harmony and good 
feeling was, however, short-lived. It 
could hardly have been otherwise after 
all the country had been through. It 
was now only eight years since the 
war. The first general elections were 
approaching. There was therefore a 
tendency to gloss over difficulties and 
to appease where possible. This, in the 
case of General Hertzog, was a 
political necessity if unity was to be 
preserved, though it galled the English 
section. To them Hertzog was an 
unpalatable pill. 

A major trend at the time was the 
cumbrous stirrings of the Afrikanders. 
They were determined to catch up with 
the world which had outstripped them 



and to shake off an inferiority complex 
that weighed down on them. Hertzog 
early sensed this mood and determined 
to make use of it. He did not initiate 
the mood he merely spurred it on in 
his biting speeches. The language 
"inequality", which he said my father 
had purposely introduced into his 
Education Act in which Afrikaans was 
made optional whilst English was 
made compulsory, rankled with him. 

He was still further angered when, in 
November, 1910, Sir C.P. Crewe 
moved in Parliament that the Free 
State Education Act was in conflict 
with the spirit of the Act of Union. 
Hertzog replied to the charge with 
customary vigour and sufficient ability 
to attract some support from the 
Afrikaans section of the House. By 
such acts he came gradually to be 
known as the champion of the Dutch. 



But he had to climb down over his 
pro-Afrikaans education policy in the 
Free State. He did it with reluctance, 
and liked Botha none the better for 
having to do so. This had been 
General Hertzog' s first quarrel with 
the Government. It was the forerunner 
of a life of quarrels. 

On the 1st March, 1911, my father, as 
Minister of Defence, drafted a scheme 
for military organisation which 
received much favourable comment. 
In the same month he introduced his 
Miners' Phthisis Bill. This disease, 
better known as silicosis, is an 
occupational disability contracted by 
those who work in rock dust. It was a 
real scourge amongst underground 
workers on the Rand who worked in 
dusty atmospheres deep down in 
poorly ventilated mines. The average 
life of the miner at the time was eight 



years of underground work before 
succumbing to this curse. In the Bill 
my father initiated the principle of 
compensation for silicosis in its 
advanced stages. Though the vast 
majority of miners always voted 
consistently against my father, few 
probably realised that he was the great 
benefactor of the silicosis legislation. 

Nor are many aware that he was the 
father of our Mining Regulations. 
They are said to be the best and most 
comprehensive in existence and have 
been imitated since by other countries. 
He was, as is known, also the father of 
our Education system, and of our 
Defence Force legislation. There is, in 
fact, very little in South Africa that did 
not spring from his fertile brain. 

My father gave a hint of impending 
Cabinet troubles at a meeting in the 
Rambler's Hall. "The Cabinet is 



composed of men of high position. 
Some of them are advanced in years 
and their hairs have grown grey in the 
service of the State. But there are 
younger ones who are perhaps too 
energetic and excessively prone to act 
on the inspiration of the moment. Ours 
is a very mixed team; we have men 
with strong volition, who press their 
own views; hence, no absolute 
unanimity can be asked for. These 
men are determined to fight for their 
opinions whenever opportunity offers. 
There is one test which, however, I 
hope none of us will fail to pass; I 
shall call it the South African spirit." 

In February, 1912, he introduced his 
Defence Bill. The Cape Times, not 
given at the time to an over-friendly 
feeling, said, "If General Smuts had 
before him a splendid task this 
afternoon, his severest critics will 



admit that it was splendidly 
performed. The General is not exactly 
an orator in the sense that Mr. 
Merriman is, but rhetoric was not 
necessary to his purpose. For two and 
a half hours he held the House with a 
masterly review of the principles 
governing the defence of South 
Africa... This astonished a House 
already fully aware of General 
Smuts 's almost terrible ability and 
genuine eloquence, prompted not by a 
conscious effort, but by the very 
nature of the subject. As a physical 
effort alone it was prodigious. Smuts 
speaks in a highly-pitched but melli- 
fluous voice, which carries clearly to 
every part of the House. He hardly 
paused to consult a note. He never 
faltered for a moment. 

There were few critics of the Bill and 
few efforts at amendments. General 



Beyers complained that it was "based 
on a foreign system" but allowed 
himself to be persuaded of its virtues 
when he himself was offered the 
position of Commandant-General of 
the Forces. 

My father, some while afterwards, 
addressed Staff Officers at 
Bloemfontein: "We want a force that 
will be able to defend South Africa 
against anyone who may come against 
us... Things may happen that nobody 
ever foresaw; therefore it behoves us 
to look forward... At present the 
nations all seem to be preparing as if 
doubtful of each other... We want an 
organisation that shall not be Boer or 
English, but a South African army... 
Do your duty ui a broad, national 
spirit." 

The English disliked Hertzog and 
there was growing dissatisfaction at 



his place in the Cabinet. It was perhaps 
an indication of this feeling that 
caused General Botha's defeat in his 
Pretoria East seat by Sir Percy Fitz- 
patrick in the elections. Though Botha 
was quickly given a safe seat at 
Losberg, he felt strongly that Hertzog 
had brought about his fall. 



25 : Hertzogism 

The liberal views of Botha and my 
father and the extremist nationalist 
views of Hertzog resulted in an ever- 
widening rift between the two 
elements. The first session of Parlia- 
ment was full of Hertzog 's bickerings. 
Botha shortly afterwards departed for 
an Imperial Conference in London, 
where he not only committed the 
indiscretion of appearing in knee 
breeches and silk stockings but also 
accepted a Privy Councillorship and 
an honorary Generalship in the British 
Army. The nationalist cry was that he 
had become a dupe of Britain. When 
he later advocated the desirability of 
making a contribution towards the 
upkeep of the Royal Navy and stressed 
the advantages of immigration, the 
Hertzogite fury knew no bounds. 
Hertzog suggested that South Africa 



should start its own navy, which 
showed a considerable measure of 
woolly thinking. 

When Botha unveiled the magnificent 
memorial to Rhodes, designed by Sir 
Herbert Baker, on the slopes of 
Devil's Peak behind Groote Schuur, 
his tribute, with memories of the past 
still fresh, was too much for the more 
conservative Boers. 

My father was nervous about the 
future of the Government. At a South 
African Party congress in 
Bloemfontein he said, "I do not know 
how long this Government is going to 
last; it sometimes happens that 
Governments disappear sooner than 
people think." A little more than a year 
later this did happen, though Hertzog 
had not been the direct cause of the 
fall. It had come about after serious 
differences in the Cabinet between 



H.C. Hull and J.W. Sauer on matters 
of railway finance, in consequence of 
which the former resigned. A Cabinet 
reshuffle took place. My father gave 
up Mines and interior, but retained the 
important Portfolio of Defence, and he 
now in addition took over Finance. 
The Volkstem remarked... we regret 
the diversion of his unmistakable 
talents to relatively less important 
duties". 

Mr. Ernest Glanville, in the course of 
an article in the Johannesburg Sunday 
Post, observed: "It has been said that 
he is a man of cold intellect, without 
any personal following, but his streak 
of humour rejects that verdict, for a 
man balanced with humour has the 
weakness, the strength, and the charm 
of human nature, which means that he 
does not stand coldly aloof. It may be 
that he has more influence with the 



Opposition than with his own back- 
benchers; and if that is true, it is true 
not because his intellect is hard, but 
because it marches ahead of his 
supporters. His arguments are logical, 
his style is precise, and his manner 
disarms opposition, while he can be 
subtle to obscure." 

Hertzog was given Native Affairs in 
addition to justice, with the hope that 
it might placate him. It was a vain 
hope. He made speeches of marked 
secessionist flavour most notably at 
Vrededorp and Nylstroom. In 
December, 1912, on Louis Esselen's 
farm at de Wildt, he made his most 
notorious speech. "South Africa must 
be governed by pure Afrikanders..." he 
said. "The main object is to keep 
Dutch and British separated... I have 
always said I do not know what 
conciliation means ... I believe in 



imperialism only so far as it benefits 
South Africa. Wherever it is at 
variance with the interests of South 
Africa I am strongly opposed to it. I 
am ready to stake my future on this 
doctrine." 

The speech was not only a grave 
embarrassment to his colleagues, but it 
roused the British to demand his 
expulsion even more insistently than 
before. 

In one of his usual tirades Hertzog had 
made some derogatory reference to my 
father, involving such terms as "caked 
dung" and "bastard sheep". When 
later questioned at a meeting about his 
colleague's unseemly farmyard 
homily, my father replied lightly that 
they were to be regarded simply as 
"veld similes". Nevertheless he was 
not happy about Hertzog' s many 



similes and the distinctly unfavourable 
trends. 

At Albany, in the Eastern Province, in 
a by-election following upon Dr. 
Jameson's retirement, the Government 
candidate was beaten on the Hertzog 
issue. 

Unionists at meetings heckled my 
father mercilessly about the bricks 
Hertzog was constantly dropping. He 
managed to parry the blows 
judiciously and in good taste, often 
putting up quite a good apology for his 
colleague, without committing himself 
or condemning his fellow minister. 

A minister from Natal, Sir George 
Leuchars, resigned. The de Wildt 
speech had been more than he could 
bear. He told General Botha that he 
was going because he "could not 
endure the anti-imperial and anti- 



British sentiment - and the speeches 
of General Hertzog". 

Abraham Fischer, Hertzog' s close 
friend, and other Orange Free State 
members, asked Hertzog to apologise 
for his de Wildt outburst and to behave 
in future. Hertzog apparently discern- 
ed my father's hand in the document, 
and pushed it away in disgust, with the 
suggestion that a person who could 
write such rubbish should be confined 
to a lunatic asylum. He stubbornly 
refused to resign, even under strong 
pressure. To do so would be to harm 
the Afrikander cause, he said. 

Botha had to be rid of him at all costs. 
There was only one other course open. 
Botha himself resigned. When called 
upon by the Governor-General to form 
a new Cabinet the names of Hertzog 
and Leuchars were omitted. 



Hertzog was now out of the Cabinet, 
but he remained in the South African 
Party for another year. 

The final break came in November, 
1913, at the annual South African 
Party congress in Cape Town. After 
heated exchanges, Hertzogites, led by 
Christian de Wet, stamped dramati- 
cally out of the hall. 

Abraham Fischer dissociated himself 
from Hertzog in a speech to his 
constituents at Bethlehem. "He has 
made impossible demands. He lost the 
support of the Free State largely 
through his want of tact. He has the 
faults of his youth. There are members 
of his Government who have done for 
the country ten times as much as he 
did. They don't deserve to be called 
traitors and men without principles." 
The farmers listened attentively and 
then passed a vote of no confidence in 



their lifelong leader, by 261 to 152. 
Broken-hearted, Fischer retired from 
politics and died a few months later. 

Hertzog had now walked out alone 
into the political wilderness. Only five 
Orange Free State members out of a 
House of 121 stood by him. The full 
fury of the entire press was turned on 
him. Few would, at that stage, have 
predicted a political future for him. 
But they were failing to take into 
account the dogged obstinacy of the 
man, his driving fanaticism and 
spirited courage. 

In his manifesto after his expulsion he 
declared "... General Botha, the 
unconcerned surrenderer of the Dutch 
people's rights, I, their champion..." 

It was a long manifesto, running into a 
full six newspaper columns in his 
involved and cumbersome style, full 



of hairsplittings and tedious repeti- 
tions. As ever, he kept on losing his 
thread. One could almost see him 
gesticulating wildly as he wrote. 

He had a son, Albert, who was in high 
school at the time. Albert followed in 
his father's footsteps and also became 
a politician. He was to concentrate on 
the Mine Workers' Union and cause 
the Transvaal Chamber of Mines much 
uneasiness through his attentions to 
their affairs. 

General Hertzog returned to the Free 
State, dismayed but unchastened, to 
preach his virulent gospel in every 
dorp. His attendances were good and 
his words fell on receptive ears. 

Shortly afterwards the Nationalist 
Party came into existence. Its titular 
leader was Hertzog. Dr. D.F. Malan 
was to lead the party in the Cape. He 



had started life in the Church but 
found it rather humdrum. He then 
indulged in considerable social work. 
This the Dutch Reformed Church did 
not like. So he dropped Holy Orders 
and took to politics. But he has never 
succeeded in shaking off the heavy 
atmosphere of the pulpit. 

Tielman Roos was to be the Transvaal 
leader, and his great roaring was to 
earn for him the title of "Lion of the 
North". It rather flattered him. By 
contrast with Dr. Malan he was of a 
boisterous and cheerful disposition. 

For his private secretary Hertzog had a 
Dr. Hans van Rensburg, a capable 
young man, who was later to become 
Commandant-General of a subversive 
political organisation known as the 
Ossewa Brandwag. In the Boer War 
Hertzog had had an adjutant by name 
Nicolaas Havenga, a progressive 



farmer of the Free State; on Hertzog's 
eventual political eclipse, he was to 
follow his leader into the wilderness. 
Other adherents of Hertzog were ex- 
President Steyn, de Wet and 
FW. Reitz, who had served with my 
father under Kruger. 

There were as yet no English 
adherents, though Creswell and 
Labour were to support them later 
against Botha and my father. It was 
incongruous to find an Englishman 
like Creswell in such strange 
company. 

This was the real start of Botha's and 
my father's troubles. The racial 
cleavage was now far developed. The 
vendetta of hate, which was carried on 
for many years, was levelled chiefly at 
my father, who to them personified the 
whole Government. It was a little- 
desired compliment. 



For forty years this struggle was to 
continue, Malan of Riebeeck West 
taking over when Hertzog dropped 
out. We had, in fact, arrived on the 
threshold of contemporary South 
African history. From now on the 
patterns were fixed. 

To counter this surge of Afrikanderism 
my father counselled Botha to take a 
stronger pro-Boer line and to avoid too 
obvious contacts with Jameson's 
Unionist British elements, and also to 
have less embarrassing contacts with 
England and the Royal Navy. 



26 : Labour Unrest 

The year 1913 was one of 
considerable labour unrest, and labour 
troubles and strikes were to occur 
acutely over the next nine years. But 
the 1913 trouble was especially 
serious in view of the already clear 
indications of the impending world 
cataclysm. South Africa could ill 
afford this phase of unrest, of sabotage 
and anarchy. 

On the 4th of July, 1913, the trouble 
started on the New Kleinfontein Gold 
Mine at Benoni. A dispute arose 
between the General Manager and the 
men. Trade Unions took up the matter 
and declared a general strike on the 
whole Rand. The mine owners rushed 
to my father for support, but he 
refused to intervene in this purely 
domestic affair. He did, however, 
prohibit a monster meeting on Market 



Square, Johannesburg; but the miners 
disregarded the warning and thousands 
crowded into the Square. Bain, 
Morgan and Matthews, their leaders, 
were there on the platform, as well as 
the Chief of Police, Colonel Truter, 
who begged the men to disperse 
peacefully in compliance with the 
Government's request. This was 
greeted with howls of derision. Bain 
rose and shouted: "We are here for the 
rights of free speech." The meeting 
grew out of hand and police rushed the 
speakers, and general scuffling and 
fighting ensued. 

A woman with a red flag harangued 
the crowd which surged down the 
streets bent on trouble. In the 
afternoon they set on fire the railway 
station and the Star newspaper offices. 
Looting began and soon became too 
much for the police. Strikers vainly 



hunted for the mine bosses, who 
luckily had fled. My father rushed 
Imperial troops to Johannesburg to 
reinforce the police. 

Next afternoon the Rand Club was 
stormed, but the crowd were held back 
by the troops. A miner, Labuschagne, 
baring his bosom, defiantly cried 
"Shoot!" The soldiers did. 
Labuschagne sank dead to the ground. 
Twenty others were killed and forty- 
seven injured, many of them innocent 
bystanders. The situation was now 
more dangerous than ever. Botha and 
my father rushed to the city in an open 
car, without escort, and at great 
personal risk. In the Carlton Hotel they 
held a conference with the four strike 
leaders. It was an unfavourable 
atmosphere for a parley, for these 
ruffians were armed, and outside the 
crowd looked menacing. Botha and 



my father were in no position to 
bargain. They knew the troops would 
not be able to hold the crowd if trouble 
arose. So they signed the strikers' 
document on their own terms. It was 
capitulation, but temporary 

capitulation dictated by force of 
circumstance. My father declared, 
"We made peace because the Imperial 
forces informed us that the mob was 
beyond their control... Anything could 
happen in Johannesburg that night: the 
town might be sacked and the mines 
permanently ruined... Later he told 
Parliament the signing of the 
document was "one of the hardest 
things I have ever had to do". 

Botha and he drove away through the 
hostile mob. Botha replied to some of 
their jeers and threats; but my father 
sat white and mute with anger. Not a 
word passed his lips, but in his heart 



he had decided to see that such a state 
of affairs never again arose. His first 
step, as Minister of Defence, was to 
organise the Defence Force. 

Times were hard, and with the 
retrenchments in the railways at the 
end of the year came fresh resentment. 
Trade Unions were drunk with their 
power. The large measure of co- 
operation between Unions threatened 
to paralyse almost the whole country. 
In January, 1914, a strike, involving 
twenty thousand workers, was called. 

This time my father was ready. He had 
prepared for just such an emergency to 
the limit of his powers under the 
Defence Act. He called up the Active 
Citizen and Burgher Forces and pro- 
claimed Martial Law on the Rand. To 
the Officers' Commanding the Rand 
Light Infantry he sent instructions: 
"Exercise the greatest severity - keep 



all strikers off the railway line or 
railway premises. Don't hesitate to 
shoot if any attempt to enter after 
warning, or if on apparent malicious 
intent." The situation was well in 
hand. The strike leaders in the Drill 
Hall quickly surrendered when my 
father ordered de la Rey to train his 
field guns on the building. 

The strike was over. 

My father seized the nine leaders, 
none of whom had been born in the 
country, and sent them straight to 
Durban by special train, where they 
were put on board the Umgeni and 
deported to England. There had been 
no trial. Just swift decisive action. 
Unconstitutional, admittedly. 

When the news leaked out next day 
there was consternation, and an appeal 
was made to the Supreme Court for a 



writ of habeas corpus. The judges 
expressed their dismay at my father's 
precipitate action. But it was too late; 
the strike leaders were gone and even 
CreswelFs efforts to intercept the 
Umgeni by a specially chartered tug, 
failed. 

In Parliament a Bill was subsequently 
carried by 95 votes to 11 to indemnify 
the Government, after long and bitter 
attacks on my father by Labour 
members and others. So violent was 
the Labour denunciation that all the 
members were suspended in turn by 
the Speaker. My father spoke for 
almost six hours in defence of his 
action. He claimed that the illegality of 
the act was justified by events. No 
other course was open. He had to 
resort, he said, to the "illegal 
deportations" because he knew that 
Parliament would never give him 



"authority in cold blood to expel the 
men in question... The only crime 
which fits this state of affairs is high 
treason but you attempt to indict these 
people for high treason and see what 
will be the result. Our law of high 
treason dates back to the Middle Ages. 
Our treason law does not fit these new 
and extraordinary conditions which 
have arisen in the present case, and if 
you were to indict these people for a 
crime they have really committed, you 
will never obtain a conviction." 

During this debate my father made no 
personal explanations or raised any 
personal defence. He was concerned 
purely with the logical development of 
the facts of the case. The Labour Party 
gave no credit to the Government for 
its good intentions. The Unionists 
disliked the Bill, but were forced to 
vote for it. Creswell indulged in a 



series of tirades and scenes; he had 
brought this dubious gift to perfection. 

Of his speech in Parliament in defence 
of the Umgeni deportations the Cape 
Argus said in a leading article, "The 
Minister made out a much stronger 
case all round than was generally 
expected." The same paper's gallery 
correspondent added: "... The speech 
was a great effort, effortlessly made. 
For epigram, finish of phrase; for wit, 
whether in the form of sly humour or 
biting sarcasm; for the evidence 
throughout of a scholarly, cultured 
mind; but, above all, for the power of 
flinging facts into the right perspective 
-or, at any rate, for the blending of all 
these qualities, I have never heard a 
speech to excel it." 

The friendly Volkstem spoke in even 
greater terms of eulogy: "After all that 
has been said this historical exposition 



will stand, and we think stand for ever 
as one of the most marvellous orations 
of which South Africa can boast." 

It was, of course, rather drastic to 
deport men from a free country 
without a fair hearing. Much of the 
world thought so, too. Yet we must not 
forget what the country was saved 
from, and in this case few can doubt 
that the end justified the means. 

The matter was referred to in the 
House of Commons, where the 
Secretary of State for Colonies 
reminded the members that South 
Africa was a self-governing Colony, 
and quite capable of deciding her own 
actions. The Governor-General's 
"acquiescence" was also justified in 
view of the subsequent Parliamentary 
indemnity. 



Merriman spoke of my father as "that 
ruthless Philosopher". Though my 
father's heavy hand had incurred 
hatred among the workers it 
nevertheless shook them to their 
senses and frightened them into a new 
semblance of stability. The effect had 
been salutary. 

The deportees later returned to South 
Africa. One became a South African 
Party organiser under my father; 
another got an important post in the 
Chamber of Mines; another joined the 
Government Service, where he 
prospered; a fourth became a Member 
of Parliament. 

Racialism had now taken a temporary 
back seat in favour of industrial and 
labour problems. But Labour felt 
compelled to break away from the 
South African Party, which it had 



supported for years, and attach itself to 
Hertzog. 

The Government was growing visibly 
unpopular. The sweeping Labour 
victories in the Provincial Council 
elections testified to it. The 
Government was twice defeated in the 
House on financial matters. There was 
a deficit in the Budget, but my father 
advised Botha to carry on. 

In the midst of all these troubles, the 
roar of great guns convulsed Europe. 
War had started. 



27 : Rebellion 

For South Africa, the outbreak of war 
was a calamity. It came too close upon 
the heels of her own war. Memories 
and feelings were still too fresh. 

To the Boers, mostly ignorant of the 
world about them, and somewhat 
illiterate, the implications of the 
conflagration were not clear. It was to 
them of little consequence that it was 
not a war with Britain but a World 
War. Rather did it appear as a golden 
opportunity to throw off the irksome 
British connection. It did not occur to 
them to question whether it was right 
to tackle England in this critical hour. 
Had not some of their famous Boer 
War leaders told them that now was 
the heaven-sent opportunity to reassert 
themselves? At the same time it would 
give them a fine chance to teach the 
traitors Botha and Smuts a lesson. 



There was a considerable tide of pro- 
Boer and anti-British feeling running, 
but this was more political than racial. 
It was those Boer elements who 
supported Botha and my father who 
came under the lash far more severely 
than the actual English themselves. 

The effect of the war was to transform 
the superficial political feelings into a 
deep-seated hatred and bitterness. 
General Botha and my father saw the 
implications clearly, but were 
powerless to avert them. They were, in 
fact, faced with a dual war; one on 
their own doorstep against their own 
people; the other against the German 
enemy in South-West Africa. 

They well understood the feelings of 
those Boers who did not agree with 
them. Many had been their comrades 
in arms in the Boer War. Some were 
distinguished men of great integrity. 



Many were their closest personal 
friends. Yet they did not allow their 
feelings to obtrude on their sense of 
duty. 

There was, in reality, only one course 
open; that of going ahead slowly. 
Tactical reasons also imposed this 
condition. The German foe was well 
prepared and a big force had to be 
assembled if we were to make sure of 
victory. Recruiting, equipping and 
training were started expeditiously, but 
even so, it took time. It is, therefore, 
incorrect to say that the three months' 
pause before we marched into South- 
West Africa was due to the delay 
caused by internal mopping-up 
operations. From the military aspect it 
was almost a blessing that the rebels 
gave an excuse for not moving 
prematurely into enemy territory with 
an insufficient force. 



The person who was to come most 
poorly out of the Rebellion was 
General Hertzog. He sat resolutely on 
the fence. While lending vociferous 
lip-service and much underground 
moral support to the rebels, he did not 
take up arms openly in the field. He 
had numerous apologists; but they 
voiced an unconvincing series of 
excuses. When the Rebellion was 
finally over, Hertzog himself made a 
long statement of explanation of his 
conduct; he always stood dead against 
the unconstitutional overthrow of 
authority, he declared. The amazing 
thing was that his followers swallowed 
these explanations and remained as 
loyal to him as ever. 

As soon as war broke out Botha told 
Britain that she could safely withdraw 
her eight thousand troops and that 
South Africa would take care of her 



own security. Seven thousand left 
immediately. 

Britain requested the Union on the 
first possible opportunity to send an 
expeditionary force to destroy the 
wireless stations at Luderitzbucht and 
Swakopmund. But South Africa was 
not ready for this big task yet; first she 
had to put her own house in order. 

There was considerable opposition 
throughout the country to the 
Government's decision to participate 
in the war and invade South-West 
Africa. There was wild talk of 
rebellion in country districts. 
Disturbances occurred at 

Potchefstroom, where the magazines 
were stormed and burned down, and in 
Pretoria where fire was set to the 
Imperial Military Stores. Certain 
diamond mines closed down 
temporarily in consternation. 



Beyers was working quite openly 
against the Government; so were the 
other rebel leaders. There was nothing 
of the cloak and dagger about their 
activities. Rifles were being collected 
from the English regiments of the 
towns who were loyal to the Govern- 
ment and issued to rebel supporters in 
the platteland. 12 Maritz collected an 
army of 600 men and marched across 
the South-West African border to join 
the Germans. The majority of his men 
did not realise what he was up to. 
Many were loyalists. 

A pathetic figure of the rebellion was 
General Koos de la Rey, now grown 
old and perhaps not so clear of mental 
perception. Oom Koos was the old 
Boer type, who had always remained 
at heart a republican. But he had 



Rural areas 



entered into the spirit of Union 
because of his great affection for 
Botha and my father. My mother says 
three closer friends could not have 
been imagined. My father venerated de 
la Rey almost as a parent, and there 
was nobody, with the exception of 
Botha, for whom he had a closer 
feeling. In this confused mental state 
de la Rey now came strongly under the 
influence of the prophet Nicholaas van 
Rensburg. This shrewd seer had 
served under him in the Boer War 
where he had done some very 
creditable "seeing". People knew de la 
Rey's weakness for van Rensburg. In 
the national interest his son-in-law 
Bennie Krige tried unsuccessfully to 
keep the two apart. 

Van Rensburg expounded to the old 
man a vision of fighting bulls: The 
significance of the story lay in the 



prophet's interpretation which was to 
the effect that Britain would go under 
and Germany prevail. Botha he could 
see returning happily to his people, but 
my father was to disappear overseas 
and not return. He had seen too, 
amongst other things, a figure fifteen, 
with de la Rey, and a carriage, and a 
cloud dripping blood. These he could 
not interpret. 

De la Rey was impressed. His course 
was now clear. A meeting was to be 
held in Lichtenburg on August 15. 
Trouble was expected. He would here 
speak out for the rebel cause. On the 
14th Botha and my father sent for 
Oom Koos and spent many hours 
talking him round. Next day at the 
meeting, de la Rey, to the amazement 
of everybody, made a conciliatory 
speech. Go home quietly, he 



counselled the gathering. They were 
dumbfounded, but did as he advised. 

Meanwhile Government recruiting 
was going on apace in Pretoria and on 
the Rand, and a sizeable force was 
concentrated at Booysens. The 
Germans had crossed the border at 
Nakob and dug in on Union soil. At 
Schuit Drift, on the Orange River, they 
attacked a party of Boers and forced 
them to take refuge on an island. 

On August 29 Beyers turned up at 
Booysens and addressed the troops. 
Later my father appeared there. "Many 
people in this country", the latter said, 
"do not appreciate the tremendous 
gravity of the crisis in which South 
Africa, together with the whole 
Empire, is placed today. Although 
apparently we stand outside, and at 
some distance from the actual scene of 
the conflict, yet at any moment we 



may be drawn into the vortex." The 
soldiers cheered wildly. They knew 
the words were directed at Beyers. 

Pretoria was the hottest spot. The 
English were loyal and impatient, but 
bearded men talked open sedition. 
Beyers did much talking in coffee 
houses as well. The Government knew 
all about it. In the midst of all this 
subversiveness Hertzog decided to 
hold a Nationalist Party Congress in 
the city. Outrageous speeches were 
made by Senator Wolmarans and 
others. De la Rey, who had merely 
attended as a spectator, pleaded for 
unity in this time of crisis. 

On the 4th of September a special ten- 
day session of Parliament was called. 
Hertzog vehemently defended 
Germany, who, he said, had 
committed no act of aggression. Three 
days later came the news that the 12th 



Regiment had departed for an 
unknown destination. 

Meanwhile Maritz was already at 
Upington, thirty miles from the 
German border, and from there he sent 
a secret emissary - P.J. Joubert - to 
Beyers to say that all was going well 
and that the German Governor Seitz 
was expecting him on the 15th. 

On the 13th Beyers resigned. My 
father took over the post of 
Commander-in-Chief. In accepting 
Beyers's resignation he declared "... I 
cannot conceive anything more fatal 
and humiliating than a policy of lip- 
loyalty in fair weather and a policy of 
neutrality and pro-German sentiment 
in days of storm and stress..." 

Governor Seitz did not see Beyers on 
the 15th, for on that day our forces had 
set sail for Luderitzbucht, and Beyers 



and de la Rey were on their way to 
Lichtenburg, where a meeting of 
protest at our participation in the war 
was being held. Beyers had come to 
Pretoria specially to talk de la Rey 
round. 

It was also the day on which all police 
in Johannesburg had been alerted to be 
on the look-out for the notorious 
Foster Gang bandits who were 
terrorising the town. They believed the 
gang would attempt a break-out, and 
had issued instructions to watch all 
roads for a big black car with three 
occupants, and to take drastic action if 
it failed to stop. Beyers and de la Rey 
were on their way to the 
Potchefstroom camp where they were 
to appear at 4 a.m. to start a rising. 
When called on to stop at a road block, 
they told the driver to drive on. The 
sentry took drastic action, but the 



bullet aimed at the back wheel 
ricocheted off the road and went 
through de la Rey's head. His honour 
was partially saved, but he was dead. 
My father had no doubts that his old 
friend was on the wrong path that 
night. His daughter Polly, who is a 
very old friend of our family, also 
feels certain that her father was under 
the influence of Beyers that night. The 
shooting was obviously accidental, but 
a hue and cry was raised that de la Rey 
had been deliberately murdered. 

My father learned of his death at 
Kimberley, on his way up from 
Parliament. The funeral took place at 
Lichtenburg. Botha, my father and 
Beyers were there. Botha's eyes were 
filled with tears. My father was not 
given to outward emotion. Beyers 
swore loyalty to his cause at the 



graveside. Van Rensburg had been 
right about the fifteenth. 

On 13th September my father had 
wired Maritz to come to Pretoria. He 
refused. My father thereupon ordered 
Koen Brits, who commanded our 
forces in the Upington area, to move 
against Maritz, but the latter became 
suspicious and moved his men to Van 
Rooisvlei, near the German border. 
There a car met him and drove him 
into German territory. On the 7th 
October he returned. The English were 
the enemy, he told his men, and 
loyalist elements under Major Enslin 
were arrested and interned. Brits sent 
Major Bower to Maritz to demand his 
surrender. Bower found Maritz 
dressed in a German uniform and was 
shown German guns and equipment. A 
safe-conduct for Hertzog, Beyers, 
Kemp and de Wet was demanded; 



failing that, he would attack. My 
father's patience with Maritz was now 
exhausted; he ordered Brits to attack 
immediately, and in an action at 
Kiemoes and Schuit Drift Maritz was 
defeated and driven into South-West 
Africa. 

Koen Brits was a remarkable 
character. He was a rough-hewn man 
standing six foot six inches in his 
socks, and was said to respect only 
Botha among man or beast. When 
Botha wired him to collect troops for 
South-West Africa, it is said he wired 
back that he was quite ready to do so, 
but whom was he to fight, England or 
Germany? He used to greet friends 
with a slash of his sjambok in lieu of a 
more formal military salute, and his 
propensities for alcohol were a 
byword. He had also developed to a 
nicety the ancient art of precision 



expectoration. British officers who at 
various times saw him in action, were 
moved to admiration. 

In East Africa he was one of my 
father's senior gunners, and here again 
he preferred his own rough estimates 
of distance to the use of the modern 
rangefinders. My father tells the story 
of when they were about twenty miles 
from Kilimanjaro, and he asked old 
Koen how far they were from the 
mountain. Brits viewed the massive 
land mass through one eye, and not 
realising the psychological deception 
of this nineteen-thousand-foot moun- 
tain, said quite blandly, "Six miles." 
No argument would convince him he 
was wrong. At last my father said, 
"Well then, lay your gun at six miles 
and fire a round." Brits did. There was 
a puff of dust just nearby on the plain. 
Brits was amazed. 



It might here be noted that there was 
considerable divergence of opinion 
amongst the rebel leaders on their 
course of action. Beyers wanted a 
relatively passive though armed form 
of resistance - the type that came to be 
known as a "coup" in the Second 
World War. He was against civil war. 
De Wet, more fiery and impetuous, 
was for vigorous action and pushing 
through to connect up with Maritz. In 
his zeal he forgot that he was poorly 
armed, had no field guns, and was 
short of ammunition. He also failed to 
reckon with the mobility afforded the 
Government by the much-extended 
railway system, or the advent of the 
petrol driven motor-car. 

When the rebellion broke, General de 
la Rey's daughter Polly, and her 
husband Bennie Krige, manager of the 
Lichtenburg bank, rushed the money 



from the bank to Pretoria for safe- 
keeping from the rebels. They arrived 
at our house at Irene at midnight, 
having come much of the way in the 
complete dark. 

My father tells a rather amusing story 
of Aunt Polly one day in those distant 
years, when she was motoring with 
him to a meeting in the Western 
Transvaal. She was sitting in the back 
of one of those ancient open cars when 
it struck both a bad bump and a sandy 
patch simultaneously, and in the 
bucking antics that followed she was 
bounced unceremoniously out into the 
dust. Everybody rushed back to render 
assistance, but Aunt Polly was luckily 
unhurt. My father's secretary, Ernest 
Lane, was so unnerved that he 
unwittingly consumed the contents of 
the first-aid flask of brandy, to the 
mortification of the patient and 



upbraiding of the others. Many a laugh 
has been had at their expense! 

During the earlier part of the rebellion 
my father lived on the farm at Irene. 
Usually he went in to work by train 
every day, but during this period of 
trouble he used his old Napier car. One 
evening a party of rebels lay in 
ambush in Fountains Valley to 
intercept him on the way home. But 
providentially, he did a thing he 
seldom did normally; he went home 
via Roberts Heights. The police got to 
hear of the affair and thereafter 
forbade him to travel in the dark, and 
in future three armed policemen 
accompanied him in his car. 

Trouble was now starting in the 
Western Transvaal and the Free State. 
The Dutch Reformed Church Synod 
warned the people against the folly of 
civil war and condemned Maritz. 



Beyers and de Wet called upon Botha 
to resign. 

My father's reply to that was to call up 
four mounted and one unmounted 
regiment, totalling 35,000 men of 
whom 70 per cent were Dutch. This 
was a Boer squabble, he said, and he 
wanted to keep it in the family. 

Up to this stage Botha and my father 
had shown infinite patience with the 
rebels. They had warned and warned 
again. They had begged, they had 
appealed; but they had not acted. 
There was no deep bitterness in the 
feelings of the rebels and it was hoped 
that perhaps they might see reason and 
disperse of their own accord. My 
father and Botha were prepared to go 
to almost any lengths to obviate 
bloodshed. 



Matters were now coming to a head. 
Beyers in the Western Transvaal and 
de Wet in the Free State were 
interfering with recruiting, were 
holding up trains and looting. 

On October 25 Martial Law was 
declared throughout the Union and 
rebels were once more called upon to 
go home, but without result. Twelve 
days later the order was repeated. By 
now there were twelve thousand rebels 
on the rampage. Pretoria was being 
threatened. My father ordered 
Transvaal Scottish and Irish regiments 
to the hills around the city. People 
were nervous and restive at the delays. 
There was no news of developments in 
the papers and there was no hint of 
action. 

Outside South Africa the general 
situation was extremely grave. The 
German juggernaut had been stemmed 



on the Marne and at Ypres, but the 
position was still insecure. A strong 
German naval squadron had had 
successes against British naval units 
off the coast of Chile; had it come 
eastward there would have been 
nothing to stop the bombardment of 
South African coastal ports or inter- 
ference with our landings at Luderitz- 
bucht. 

At the review of a motor brigade held 
in Johannesburg on November 7 my 
father said: "The Dutch people of 
South Africa feel that their honour is 
touched. They are determined to do 
their duty and wipe out this disgrace... 
Out of the late great war, the Boer 
people brought little except their good 
name. That is what they value as their 
greatest asset in the world. They are 
not going to allow anyone, no matter 
how great a part he has played in the 



past, to drag that good name in the 
mire. We are going to see this 
through." The Government had 
matters well in hand and people "could 
sleep peacefully". 

In the beginning of November fighting 
started in earnest. At Treurfontein 
Colonel Alberts defeated the rebel 
Kemp, who, however, managed 
personally to get away. Later Kemp 
gathered eight hundred men about him 
again and captured Schweizer Reneke, 
where he foully desecrated the Union 
Jack. The Natal Light Horse, under 
Colonel Royston, tried to intercept 
him at Khies Drift but were tricked 
with a white flag, and lost many men, 
while Kemp fled through the Kalahari 
into South-West Africa. 

Botha and my father asked General 
Hertzog to use his moderating 
influence. He did not reply. Later they 



tried to negotiate with Beyers through 
Meintjes, also without result. Later 
they tried once more through the 
magistrate of Wolmaranstad, again 
without result. 

Meanwhile de Wet, after the loss of 
his son, had gone berserk and was 
tearing up the Free State. Hertzog 
made a revolutionary Speech in 
Parliament mourning the poor rebels 
who were being "murdered". 

On November 11 Botha attacked de 
Wet's 3,500 men at the head of a big 
army and drove them towards General 
Lukin at Koraanberg, but owing to 
sabotage in the signals lines Lukin was 
too late to intercept. At Mushroom 
Valley Botha finally cornered his 
quarry, but again de Wet, together 
with Harm Oost and two others, 
managed to escape across the Vaal. 
Here he collected a new force of 250, 



and dashed westwards across the 
desert to the German border. He was 
pursued by Koen Brits 's columns in 
cars and captured by Colonel Jordaan 
at Waterbury, in the Kalahari. Botha 
had used artillery and machine guns 
and there were heavy casualties. 

Meanwhile Beyers had been decisively 
defeated by Botha near Rustenburg. 
He seems to have panicked in those 
latter weeks and his moves lacked 
purpose. Loyalists disclosed his 
presence on the Transvaal side of the 
Vaal near Greylings Request where he 
was surrounded. Telling Field-Cornet 
Boshoff that he was going to make a 
fight of it he sprang on to a strange 
horse and plunged into the river. The 
horse grew restive with the shooting, 
so Beyers slipped off and started to 
swim for the bank, which was quite 
near. He turned on his back and 



appeared to be in difficulties, calling, 
"I can't keep it up." One of his men 
tried to help him but was stopped by a 
bullet. Shooting now ceased and 
troops from the Transvaal side thrust 
out branches for him to grasp, but 
shouting that his coat was entangled 
with his legs, he disappeared suddenly 
under the raging brown waters. Rescue 
attempts were foiled by rebels once 
more opening fire. Three days later his 
body was recovered after the floods 
had subsided. His coat was missing 
and his bootlaces were tightly 
entangled. These laces had been his 
undoing. 

Beyers had been a firm friend of my 
mother's and had been a frequent 
visitor to us at Irene and in Pretoria. 
He grew up in Stellenbosch with my 
Krige uncles, with whom he did much 
swimming in the local dam. He was 



said to have been a very good 
swimmer. 

My father was genuinely distressed at 
the ignominious way in which Beyers 
had met his end, and himself sat down 
and drafted his wife a letter of 
condolence. He also put at her disposal 
a special train in order that all the 
relatives might attend the funeral, and 
helped her in many other ways. There 
was no bad blood between the two 
families. 

Last to surrender was Commandant 
Joseph Fourie, a permanent force 
officer and protege of Beyers. From a 
Boer War wound in the knee be had 
contracted a slight limp. At the start of 
the rebellion he had treasonably gone 
over to Beyers in our full military 
uniform and was therefore in a slightly 
different category of rebel. On 
Dingaan's Day, the 16th of December, 



he was captured by Colonel 
N.J. Pretorius at Nooitgedacht, near 
Pretoria. He had acted treacherously 
and twelve of our troops had lost their 
lives in the encounter. Now in mufti, 
and with a huge beard, Jopie Fourie 
boasted of his crimes and was 
unrepentant. 

At a South African Party congress, 
held in Bloemfontein in 1915, my 
father gave this description of Fourie 's 
capture and court martial: "Fourie was 
called out with the Defence Force 
Regiment of which he was an officer. 
He discussed matters with General 
Botha and myself, giving us the 
impression that he had no grievance. 
But he rebelled, and a number of men 
belonging to his regiment went out 
with him. He has shed more blood 
than any other officer. I was obliged to 
take him seriously... The rebellion was 



subsiding. Beyers was drowned. 
General de Wet surrendered when he 
saw himself hopelessly surrounded. At 
Reitz, General Botha had taken a large 
number of prisoners. Only Fourie's 
band remained contumacious. Twelve 
of our men were killed at 
Nooitgedacht. There was no 
justification for that. Some of them 
were shot at a range of twelve yards. 
Fourie was captured by Colonel 
Pretorius, a grandson of the late 
President Pretorius and a cousin of 
Fourie's... A court martial was 
appointed, strictly according to 
military law. One of its members told 
me he felt compunction about serving, 
because he was a friend of Fourie's. I 
replied that that was an additional 
reason why he should be on the 
tribunal. On Saturday Fourie was 
unanimously condemned to death... 



Had I refused to confirm the sentence, 
I could not have faced the parents of 
the young men who met their deaths 
through Fourie's fault. There is 
something to be said for many a rebel, 
but in this case I conferred a great 
benefit on the State by carrying out my 
most unpleasant duty... " 

He had been captured on Dingaan's 
Day and executed by a firing squad on 
a Sunday. Frantic last-minute efforts 
were made by his friends to obtain a 
reprieve, and delegations tried desper- 
ately to see my father. But he was not 
at home at the time, and in any case, 
he said, he would not have interfered 
in the course of justice. 

Cheered by the news that Admiral 
Sturdee's battle-cruisers had destroyed 
the German Pacific squadron off the 
Falkland Islands on December 20, 



Botha was in a position to declare the 
rebellion over. 

Twelve hundred rebels were sent 
home on parole. When Parliament 
reassembled four thousand men were 
still in prison awaiting sentence. A 
court of three judges was established 
to try the more important rebels and 
shortly the remainder were released 
subject to certain civil disabilities for 
ten years. 

Deneys Reitz summed up the position 
very clearly when he wrote in 
Trekking On, in 1933: "The rebellion 
was over. With a great conflict raging 
in Europe, it passed almost unnoticed 
in the outside world, but in South 
Africa the aftermath is with us yet, and 
the motives and origin are still the 
subject of fierce controversy. 



"I personally have not the slightest 
doubt that it was a direct outcome of 
our preceding political warfare. That it 
was essentially a party quarrel is 
proved by the fact that every member 
of the South African Party stood by 
General Botha, and while not every 
Nationalist was a rebel, it is literally 
true that every rebel, without a single 
exception, was a Nationalist. 

"Furthermore, the rebellion was a 
domestic dispute among the Boers 
themselves, and hostility towards the 
British had comparatively little part in 
it... The rising was crushed by Boer 
commandos under Boer officers, and 
to this day the ill-feeling that was 
engendered lies not between the Dutch 
and British, but between the two 
sections of the Boer people in South 
Africa." 



During the necessarily acrimonious 
debate following my father's 
introduction of his second Indemnity 
Bill within a year, he summed up the 
origins of the rising briefly as follows: 
"One of the most powerful 
contributory causes to the rebellion 
was the campaign of calumny against 
the Prime Minister. The Dutch people 
do not draw any fine distinctions, and 
by a process of reiteration a soil was 
created into which the fertile seed 
fell..." 

Hertzog said in Parliament: "'The 
Government has done its duty in 
suppressing disorders and violence in 
the country. I have never accused the 
Government of having done anything 
wrong in so doing." When tackled 
about his negotiations with Maritz he 
made the excuse that he could neither 
have reproached the rebels nor 



supported the Government without 
getting into trouble with one or the 
other. A Unionist member for the 
Rand, J.W. Quinn, said bluntly: "I 
would have shot the honourable 
member for Smithfield." 

My father had been tireless during the 
rebellion and had worked well into 
every night throughout these trying 
months. During this time he drove 
both himself and his subordinates 
remorselessly. Botha paid him this 
well-merited tribute: "Nobody can 
ever appreciate sufficiently the great 
work General Smuts has done - 
greater than that of any other man 
throughout this unhappy period." 

The rebels were dealt with liberally on 
principle, partly as a friendly gesture 
and partly to avoid creating martyrs. 
De Wet got six years, but only served 
eighteen months before being released. 



Kemp and the prophet van Rensburg, 
who had escaped into South-West 
Africa, surrendered when General 
Botha invaded the colony, and Maritz 
fled to Europe. All were later allowed 
to return without penalty. 

My father has always felt that the 
policy of leniency was justified by 
subsequent history. The one martyr he 
created, Fourie, gave him quite 
sufficient trouble. 

The weekly The Cape wrote in 1915: 
"From whichever side a criticism of 
the Government comes, be sure that 
the odium will fall on General Smuts. 
There could hardly be any greater 
tribute than this to the power which he 
wields in present-day politics. I do not 
subscribe to the view that General 
Botha is merely a puppet in the hands 
of General Smuts, but I do think that, 
if there had been no Smuts in Union 



politics, there would have been no 
Botha... Smuts directs all the 
machinery of government and oils all 
the parts. He is always in the 
background, planning, calculating, 
plotting. Smuts burrows his way from 
morning till night through mountains 
of official documents... When the 
Government does anything heroic it is 
always 'Bravo, Botha!' When it 
bumps up against public opinion, it is 
always 'Smuts's slimness'. He never 
takes a holiday... He alone appears not 
to feel the need. What a fortunate thing 
this is for the Botha Ministry!" 



Part 2 
The First World War 



28 : First World War 

Germany was not a colonising power. 
Unlike the British, the Portuguese and 
the Dutch, who acquired their overseas 
possessions by the courage and 
enterprise of their pioneers, the 
Germans were content to get theirs 
less heroically by annexation or 
exchange. South-West Africa was 
virtually a gift from Britain in 1884. 
The scramble for Africa was just 
beginning. Previously Germany had 
been much too busy with her wars on 
the Continent to have time for 
colonies. Even now Bismarck was so 
involved he could barely spare the 
time. But the lectures of the explorer 
H.M. Stanley were awakening German 
interest. 



South-West Africa was handed over 
against the advice of the Cape 
Government, which itself had been 
unable to secure it. Dr. Karl Peters and 
two confederates acquired Tanganyika 
by going out disguised as artisans and 
secretly conducting treaties with the 
native chiefs. The greater part of the 
Cameroons was gained in similar 
fashion. The remainder was got from 
France in 1911 as a favour for keeping 
her hands off Morocco. 

Equally striking is the difference in 
method of administration between 
German and English colonies. In the 
British system a great deal of latitude 
is permitted the colonies in their own 
administration. The German 

possessions were ruled very much 
from the Fatherland and were 
exploited for exports and consolidated 
as military bases. 



The German flag was hoisted on 6th 
August, 1884, at Luderitzbucht, four 
centuries after Bartholomew Dias had 
landed there. Nine years later a 
ruthless series of native wars began " 
which went on till 1908. The German 
ideal of colonisation was the same as 
in the old Americas - extermination. 
Thereafter there was no Red Indian 
problem. In South-West Africa 
Germany determined there would be 
no Herero problem. A British 
commission estimated the Herero 
population at 80,000 in 1877. When 
the punitive efforts had subsided after 
the 1911 rebellion there were barely 
15,130 left. It was not straightforward 
extermination, but sadistic ill- 
treatment, flogging, interference with 
women and brutality. 

The Herero's had 150,000 head of 
cattle in 1892, less than 50,000 at the 



turn of the century, and none at all five 
years later. What had Germany put 
into the country in return? A few 
shabby towns, two strategic wireless 
stations and a raging incidence of 
venereal disease. 

German penetration of Tanganyika 
also started in 1884. Its advent was 
marked by continual Arab and native 
rising, caused by harshness and 
unsympathetic treatment. Methods of 
suppression were of the well-known 
ruthless pattern. Wherever they went 
they built protective "bomas" or forts. 
From these they scarce dared venture 
far. The first rising was the Bushiri 
rebellion, brought about by the 
exploitation of the natives by Karl 
Peters. In two years there was nothing 
left. The Chagga chiefs of Kilimanjaro 
were next to revolt. Then followed a 
two-year war with the Hele of Iringa, 



farther inland. Rather than be captured 
the native chiefs committed suicide. 
Seven years later came the Maji-Maji 
rebellion. As a punitive measure native 
crops were burnt, which resulted in 
widespread starvation. Hundreds of 
natives were strung up from trees. In 
all, about 120,000 perished. 

The German record in the Cameroons 
and Togoland is little better. 

Her mark upon Africa has not been a 
happy one. 

What was the strategic significance of 
Germany's possessions in Africa? 
South-West Africa, a territory 800 
miles long and 400 wide, three- 
quarters the size of the Union of South 
Africa, runs more than halfway up the 
west side of the Union. Even though 
the arid Kalahari intervenes, it 
nevertheless points a dagger at our 



very heart. It has two tolerable 
harbours which might readily be 
turned into U-boat nests, with 
incalculable effect on the Atlantic sea 
routes. Above South-West Africa lies 
Angola, and on our east coast marches 
the Mozambique, both territories of 
our honourable and ancient, but weak, 
ally Portugal. Between the Rhodesia's 
and Kenya, next to the Belgian Congo, 
lies Tanganyika. With two fine ports 
in Tanga and Dar-es-Salaam, she 
menaces the whole centre part of 
Africa. She also looks out on a large 
part of the Indian Ocean. Contrary to 
general sub-continent practice, 
Germany trained native levies in 
military tactics. These askaris we were 
soon to meet. 

The Germans have always been much 
interested in forming a strategic "bloc" 
in the heart of Africa. It was part of 



what they called their "Mittel-Afrika" 
concept, defined at various times by 
Leutwein, Zimmerman and Delbriick 
and including more or less the whole 
southern half of the continent. If this 
could not be acquired by peaceful 
means, perhaps one day she would be 
strong enough... 






The first Great War was no sudden 
conflagration stealing stealthily upon 
the world out of the dark. It did not 
come silently and unnoticed. The 
gathering storm had been observed 
approaching plainly for all to see, but 
humanity seemed powerless to avert 
the catastrophe. We have already seen 
the start of the strained feeling during 
the Jameson Raid and its worsening 
during the Boer War, when Germany 
glowered, impotentiy, across the 
screen of warships at the British 



transports leaving for the front. In 
1904 there was to be trouble over 
Morocco in the so-called Tangier 
Episode, when the German Emperor 
steamed there in his private yacht, and 
made a speech on Morocco's 
independence which was a distinct 
challenge to Britain and France. In 
1906, in a treaty, the independence of 
Morocco was guaranteed by all the 
major powers of Europe. Perhaps all 
might have been well had the Sultan 
been a strong man and able to keep his 
subjects in order. But by 1911 there 
was so much internal trouble that 
France felt herself constrained to 
intervene. This intervention annoyed 
Germany and she despatched two 
gunboats to Agadir. Though the move 
was ostensibly to protect her subjects, 
it was a hostile display of power by 
Germany. For a month or two there 



was suspense, and it was only after the 
British Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
Mr. Lloyd George, had made it plain 
that Britain was quite ready to side 
with France in this squabble that 
Germany grew more tractable. France, 
unimpeded, went on to arrange a treaty 
with the Sultan for a French protecto- 
rate, while Germany was actively 
spurred an in her naval building 
programme and was raising an extra 
£50,000,000 for her army. 

France and Germany, though at peace, 
were in opposite camps, and Britain 
had professed her love for France. 
Britain did her best to reduce the 
tension by despatching Lord Haldane 
and others on friendly missions to 
Germany. 

Europe had been in an unsettled state 
over the past few years. In 1908 there 
had been a revolution in Turkey. In 



1912 followed the First Balkan War, 
initiated by Venizelos of Greece and 
Ferdinand of Bulgaria. The Turkish 
army was defeated and the whole of 
Turkey in Europe was conquered 
except the outposts of Constantinople 
and the Peninsula of Gallipoli. The 
terms of the abortive Treaty of London 
having failed to be brought into effect, 
the Second Balkan War ensued a year 
later in which Bulgaria faced Greece, 
Serbia and Roumania, till peace was 
concluded at Constantinople. During 
this war Turkey had managed to regain 
her place in south-eastern Europe. 

German influence had steadily 
improved with the Turks to the 
detriment of that of Britain. It was 
aggravated by the friendship of Britain 
with Russia, Turkey's old enemy. On 
11th August, 1914, the Turkish 
Government permitted the German 



warships Goebeh and Breslau to use 
the Dardanelles. An endeavour was 
made to keep the Turks neutral, but on 
October 29 Turkey threw off the mask 
and declared war. 

In 1911 the Triple Entente Powers, 
Britain, France and Russia, had shown 
the Triple Alliance Powers, Germany, 
Austria and Italy, that none of the 
Entente powers stood alone, and by 
sound diplomacy had averted war. In 
the crisis of July, 1914, it was unable 
to do so. On 28th June the Archduke 
Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian 
throne, had been assassinated at 
Sarajevo in Bosnia. Austria alleged the 
foul deed had been due to Serbian 
intrigues and on July 23 sent an 
ultimatum to Belgrade. Forty-eight 
hours of grace were allowed and 
thereafter Austria began war on 
Serbia. This it was impossible to limit 



or confine. Russia began to get her 
armies ready to help Serbia. On 1st 
August Germany presented an 
ultimatum to Russia. When this 
expired Germany forthwith attacked 
Russia's ally, France, through neutral 
Belgium. 

On 4th August Britain declared war on 
Germany. 

And so started what was at that time 
the biggest human upheaval of all 
ages. It was indeed a world war in the 
true sense, for though the major 
fighting occurred on the Western Front 
of Europe, it involved bloody 
struggles with Turkey in the 
Dardanelles, in Mesopotamia and 
North Africa; it involved major naval 
battles at the Falkland Islands and 
Jutland; and it involved outpost 
fighting in South-West Africa and in 
East Africa; and at the same time there 



was the continuous and relentless 
struggle with the U-boat menace over 
the Seven Seas. 

The Allies, in the bloody years that 
followed, were to realise that they had 
tackled the most ruthless and efficient 
military machine the world had ever 
seen. Not only did Germany at first 
enjoy a numerical superiority, but man 
for man the war was to bring the 
frightening realisation that the German 
soldier had no equal, and certainly no 
superior, in the armies of the world. 
This was amply borne out by casualty 
figures for the war. Mr. Churchill 
says: "During the whole war the 
Germans never lost in any phase of the 
fighting more than the French whom 
they fought, and frequently inflicted 
double casualties upon them... in all 
the British offensives the British 
casualties were never less than 3 to 2 



and often nearly double the 
corresponding German losses." 

The trouble with the war was that it 
was never fully completed and 
Germany was never crushingly 
defeated. Victory came about when the 
German home front cracked as a result 
of relentless blockade. When the line 
on the frontiers was pierced the 
Germans suddenly capitulated. As an 
army they were still intact. Their 
country had not been invaded or 
treated to the ravages of war. The 
German population, though starved, 
never admitted that they had been 
beaten. 

In the half-completed war, and in the 
half-baked treaty at Versailles, lay the 
germ for the still bigger war that was 
to follow in 1939. But that we must 
leave for later chapters. 



Shortly before the outbreak of the 
revolution in Russia, Lord Milner, 
together with Sir Samuel Hoare, had 
been sent there to report on the 
possibilities of an upheaval. These 
were the days of a lavish Russian 
court, of a royal line suffering from the 
dread bleeders' disease, haemophilia, 
and of the scoundrel healer Rasputin, 
who was murdered just before they 
left. To Hoare, the imminence of a 
rising was only too patent, but Milner, 
out of touch, wrote in his report on 
board ship that he did not consider a 
revolution likely. There was wireless 
silence at the time, and it was only 
when he landed in England that he 
heard for the first time that the 
revolution had already been in 
progress for some weeks. His report 
was useless and he tore it up and wrote 
another. 



The major battles of the war were 
contested grimly on the Western 
Front, chiefly in the mire of Belgium 
and France. Hindenburg and Luden- 
dorf had swung round to apply the 
famed strategy of a right hook on 
Paris. The French capital was nearly 
reached. The South African Brigade at 
Delville Wood, in the vast battles of 
the Somme, played their small but 
immortal part in stopping the 
avalanche. 

Germany was finally checked in a 
muddy world of trenches and barbed 
wire. Names such as Ypres, the 
Somme, Verdun, Passchendaele and 
many others are household words. 
Millions of young men perished in 
these battles, the flower of England 
and France. France had borne the 
earlier brunt of the juggernaut. Britain 
took over later, and near the end 



America also came in to apply the 
coup d'etat, but her effort had been too 
belated to be of crucial value. 

In Africa Germany had to be driven 
from her colonies in South-West 
Africa and in Tanganyika. South 
African troops played a dominant part 
in these campaigns. In the Middle 
East, Turkey was only subdued after 
much fighting by Viscount Allenby. 
The Holy Land had heard the booming 
of guns and thundering of horses' 
hoofs. Allied blood lay on the beaches 
at the Dardanelles. Much of it was 
Anzac blood. Mr. Churchill bore the 
brunt of the criticism. 



29 : South-West African 
Campaign 

South-West Africa is a vast arid 
territory of over 317,000 square miles 
with a thousand-mile-long coast-line. 
Almost half of it is desert, especially 
the flat coastal plains which are 
billowing, sandy, waterless wastes. 
Well inland the highlands enjoy a 
better rainfall and form attractive 
ranching country. 

For the defence of this distant outpost 
of Das Vaterland the Germans had 
only a little over 8,000 troops. The 
remainder of the defence was left to 
the broad belt of surrounding 
inhospitable desert, which was thought 
to be impassable to armies encum- 
bered with their water and 
commissariat problems. Where the 
Germans, in all their thoroughness, 
erred, however, was in their under 



estimation of the capabilities of the 
Union troops and their organising 
skill. For neither Botha nor my father 
had been idle during the troublous 
times of the rebellion. They had, 
rightly, foreseen that the Germans 
would deem the desert crossings im- 
possible, and they had set about the 
task of rendering the impossible 
possible. In the art of desert warfare 
my father had had considerable 
experience in the South-West Cape. 
He saw that with proper organisation a 
commando crossing of the desert 
would be by no means impossible. The 
first task was to assure a water supply. 
This was done by putting down a 
chain of boreholes. Supplies were 
taken care of by the new-fangled 
motor-car. In any case, it was going to 
be a lightning campaign, and the 
troops would have to travel light, and 




Smuts and Botha - 1918 



Lieut.-Gen. J.C. Smuts - 1917 



rough it as best they could. By striking 
swiftly and decisively he believed he 
could obtain clear-cut victories, reduce 
casualties, and shorten the agony. But 
hard as he drove his men, he drove 
himself equally relentlessly. His was 
not a static headquarters days behind 
the fighting line; he would always be 
found well up with his troops. In 
Africa, with its poor communications, 
this was essential if a general was to 
remain in touch with his forces. My 
father could do it because of his frugal 
way of living, his tremendous fitness 
and vitality, and his unbounded 
physical endurance. 

This close tactical command paid 
dividends. It enabled quick decisions 
and swift moves. Rommel proved it in 
North Africa in the Second World 
War, and in those gigantic mobile tank 
battles it was often decisive. Hitler, 



sitting back in the Reich Chancellery 
in Berlin, was out of touch and his 
poor contact possibly cost Germany 
the war. 

General Botha arrived at Swakopmund 
on 11th February, 1915. My father did 
not reach Luderitzbucht till mid-April. 
This port had previously been taken by 
British units. In front of the armies lay 
shifting sands, dust storms, scorching 
heat and thirst. 

South-West Africa was divided into 
two zones of command. General Botha 
made Walfish Bay his main base and 
tackled the enemy in the northern 
portion of the territory. My father 
operated in the southern half. 

Moving swiftly from Walfish, Botha 
attacked the Germans at Jakalswater 
and drove them backwards. Without 
losing impetus he passed through 



Otjimbingwe, where the noted African 
explorer Charles John Anderson had 
once established himself, and seized 
Karibib, Friedriksfelde, Wilhelmsthal 
and Okahanja in turn, entering 
Windhoek, the capital, on 12th May. 
Having now driven a wedge across the 
territory from west to east, Botha 
divided his force into four columns, 
for mopping-up operations. The first 
he put under his trusted Koen Brits, 
who was to move up northwards on 
the west side of the railway to 
Otjivarongo and beyond to Outjo and 
the Etosha Pan, by so doing severing 
the German line of retreat to the 
Cunene and the Kaokoveld. The 
second column, under Lukin, was to 
move up along the railway line; the 
third, under Maine Botha, was to 
move along east of the line to Tsumeb; 



the fourth column, under Myburg, was 
to strike out for the Otavi junction. 

The speed of the move, executed in 
hard forced marches, cut off the 4,000 
German troops, who were forced to 
capitulate. Governor Seitz and Colonel 
Francke wanted to argue, but Botha 
demanded unconditional surrender, 
and the terms were signed on 9th July. 
One of Botha's columns covered 120 
miles of marching in difficult desert 
conditions. 

Meanwhile my father had not been 
idle. His attack was a three pronged 
one. He sent Mackenzie across the 
desert plains from Luderitz in the 
west, van Deventer up from the 
Orange River in the south across the 
Kalahari, and Berrange from Kuruman 
ill the east. In a series of gruelling 
rushed marches he took Keetman- 
shoop and Gibeon by the beginning of 



May. There was hardly enough water 
to keep body and soul together and 
even the occasional tin of bully beef 
was a luxury. The supply services had 
been far outstripped in this land of 
heat and sand. At first the troops lived 
on a minimum ration of distilled sea 
water, and it was not till they reached 
the highlands after Gams that they 
came on fresh water. 

The Germans had exhibited their 
characteristic thoroughness in their 
retreat by poisoning and polluting all 
water supplies and blowing up or 
booby-trapping all installations. Along 
their roads of retreat they planted 
numerous land mines, and there were 
constant explosions and casualties as 
the advancing troops set them off. 
Some of the wells were filled with 
foetid corpses of animals which reeked 
to high heaven; but the swiftness of 



our moves enabled us to capture some 
intact. All around was a "scorched- 
earth" policy applied in a land that 
nature had already long ago decided 
was to be a scorched earth. 

My father avoided frontal attacks. He 
was an inveterate exponent, like all 
Boers, of the enveloping flanking 
move. Thus Aus, an important point 
on the road to Keetmanshoop, though 
well held and tactically strong, fell 
without trouble. As ever, my father 
had the habit of wishing to do his own 
reconnaissance work wherever 
possible. Near Keetmanshoop he was 
returning from one of these trips ahead 
of his troops when he ran into, and 
was captured by an outlying screen of 
our men. He, rather than his 
subordinates, saw the humour of such 
situations. They left his senior officers 
worried but helpless. 



The Kalahari column accomplished 
the almost incredible feat of crossing 
nearly 700 miles of desert on horses. 
They made a beeline for 
Keetmanshoop. It was a brilliant 
march, and took the enemy by 
surprise. 

Beaten in the south, the Germans 
swung up towards Windhoek, only to 
find they had been driven up against 
General Botha. The campaign was 
over. It had been a walk-over for the 
45,000 Union troops. The casualties - 
530 dead and wounded - were only 
half those of the rebellion; this was as 
much due to superior tactics and good 
handling as to overwhelming strength. 
The swiftness and the detailed co- 
ordination of movements over vast 
distances was a revelation to students 
of military history; it was a distinct 
feather in the caps of General Botha 



and my father. The cost to the 
Treasury had only been £15,000,000. 
It was also the first campaign of the 
Allies to be brought to a successful 
conclusion in this war. 

After the campaign my father 
expressed to his troops his pride in 
their accomplishments: "If you go 
through the history of wars, you will 
perhaps only in the Boer War find 
records like these... If you tell of this 
march from Nonandas to Karabib 
people will not believe you; if you tell 
them how little water you drank and 
how few biscuits you ate, they will not 
believe you." 

In July, 1915, General Botha and my 
father returned to the Union as heroes. 
Botha thanked my father: "South 
Africa might well be proud of having 
produced a man of such talents," he 
said. 



In Cape Town, Johannesburg and 
other towns they were given 
tumultuous ovations; but in the 
countryside there was a strong 
undercurrent of hostility. There they 
were not heroes returning triumphant 
from the fields of battles, but just 
despised tools of Britain. The cry was 
that they were subordinating South 
Africa to the interests of the Empire, 
which at the time was struggling at 
Gallipoli, gravely threatened by the 
first U-boat campaign, and helpless to 
aid a tottering Russia. These 
opponents were not appeased by 
victory, or the acquisition of a big 
slice of new territory. Few people are 
more difficult to impress than the 
Boers when they have set their hearts 
against a thing. Hertzog harped 
incessantly on imperialism, the blood 
of brothers that had been shed and the 



thousands of broken hearts. At 
Edenburg he said, "South Africa has 
done enough for the Empire. Person- 
ally, I object to any more money being 
expended on the cause of the Empire." 

The five-year term of office of the 
Government was about to expire as the 
troops returned from South-West 
Africa. It was not a propitious time 
coming so shortly after the rebellion. 
South African Party prospects at the 
election were uncertain, though it was 
known that the Unionists would stand 
solidly by them on the war issue. 

Feelings were running high. The 
sinking of the Lusitania brought about 
a series of emotional demonstrations 
which only served to aggravate the 
cleavage. The sad and disturbing 
exodus of the Afrikaner from the 
Botha-Smuts kraal was in full swing. 
It was one of those baser 



manifestations of ingratitude that 
chequered my father's public life. 

In August my father cast back at 
Hertzog his cry that General Botha had 
become an Englishman. "Since then 
[the National Convention] others have 
changed, not we... We want one South 
Africa, one united people. Five years 
hence, or fifty years hence, our party 
will still stand where it now stands... 
Before the Boer War we had a divided 
people - the old population and the 
Uitlanders. The result of that system 
was blood and tears... Within the past 
couple of years there has been a 
reaction against the one-stream policy. 
Have we not had bloodshed in the past 
twelve months as a consequence of 
this?..." 

On October 15 he remarked: "I am a 
man of peace. General Hertzog says 
Botha and Smuts must be got rid of. If 



it were a personal question, I should 
like nothing better than to be out of 
this hell into which I have wandered, 
and in which I have lived for the last 
two years... the Government will not 
leave you in the lurch... I shall work 
with my last breath for the good of 
South Africa." 

In September electioneering started in 
grim earnest. Meetings were hectic. 
There was constant heckling and 
interruption. The case of Jopie Fourie 
featured prominently, even his widow 
stepping into the fray. Nationalists 
accused the Government of having 
deliberately murdered General de la 
Rey. A deluge of alleged crimes 
descended upon the Government. My 
father had the distinction of being the 
best-hated and most-maligned man on 
the Government side. He was also 
their chief and most indefatigable 



speaker. There were few dull moments 
at his meetings. Speeches were 
drowned by the vociferous, organised, 
clamour of discontent. 

One day when travelling by car in the 
chilly weather of the highveld, with 
his coat well up over his ears, between 
two political meetings, my father said 
wistfully to Levi, a newspaper 
correspondent, who was with him: 
"Do not complain. You have enough 
to eat. You have no one whose fate 
depends on you." You have thoughts 
to call your own, and a certain amount 
of leisure. Look at me! Thousands, I 
suppose, envy me my place and 
power. Yet what are they? My own 
people curse me; to tens of thousands 
my name is a by- word. Be satisfied!" 

At Brits a questioner asked which 
came first with him, South Africa or 
the Empire: "There is no question I 



could answer more easily," my father 
said. "The interests of South Africa 
will always be first with me." But 
South Africa, he might have added, 
could only be great if Britain and the 
Commonwealth were strong and great. 
At a meeting on 9th September, in 
Pretoria, he left, after having been 
refused a hearing, very much the 
worse for rotten eggs and over-ripe 
tomatoes. 

We must not over-estimate opposition 
at these meetings, for even in those 
days the Nationalists had organised 
roving break-up gangs. They followed 
principal speakers from meeting to 
meeting with the express purpose of 
denying them a hearing. The Nazi 
thugs of Adolf Hitler used similar 
tactics. 

On September 23, occurred an outrage 
at Newlands, a poorer suburb of 



Johannesburg. My father had been 
warned by friends not to appear there 
as serious trouble was expected. But 
he was not one to be deterred by 
threats of personal violence, for fear 
formed no part of his physical make- 
up. 

The suppressed hum burst into a full- 
blooded angry roar as he entered the 
hall. His chauffeur, George Hodgson, 
left the Napier parked at the door - 
just in case. Barely had the official 
party mounted the platform when 
Mary Fitzgerald, a Labour agitator, 
stepped forward with a baby in her 
arms. "This is the child of 
Labuschagne whom you murdered," 
she shouted, referring to the person of 
1913 strike fame. Rotten eggs and 
tomatoes rained on to the platform, as 
well as objects of more solid 
composition. "For heaven's sake take 



the child away," my father said, "or it 
will get killed." After a brief 
softening-up process with stones and 
bottles, some of the crowd rushed the 
platform and a general melee ensued. 
Sticks and boots were used freely. 
When the lamps were smashed my 
father decided it was time to go. It was 
plain that the most serious personal 
violence was contemplated. The party 
had to fight its way out under a hail of 
brickbats and blows from sticks and 
clubs. My father was knocked down, 
but managed to struggle to his feet and 
got to the door with the rest of them. 
Meanwhile Hodgson had started the 
car, but the mob dragged him from his 
seat and switched it of. Twice this 
happened before my father arrived. 
Here, as he was boarding the vehicle, a 
vicious blow aimed at him with a pick- 
handle missed and felled a hostile 



miner alongside. A warning shot was 
fired by a detective and thereafter as 
the car drove off there were more 
shots, not fired by the detective. It is 
presumed that these were the efforts of 
a would-be assassin. 

My father got away with little worse 
than bruises and ruffled feelings. 

The Times, commenting on the 
Newlands disorder, remarked: 
"Perhaps South Africans who have 
hitherto admired, without sympathy, 
the rather hard brilliancy of General 
Smuts, may realise, having so nearly 
lost him, his value to South Africa and 
the Empire. His enemies may thus 
have secured for him what, in 
comparison with other South African 
public men of less ability, he has 
curiously lacked hitherto - a popular 
following." 



My earliest recollections are of the 
appearance of my father's coat the 
morning after he got back from 
Newlands. I was three at the time. My 
mother called us outside to come and 
look at it, for it was not in a fit state to 
come indoors. That coat made such a 
deep impression on me that I decided 
there and then that the political world 
was not for me! 

The results of the elections were 
disappointing. In the Free State where 
in 1910 they had made a clean sweep 
the South African Party did not win a 
single seat. Of the entire country 50 
per cent of the rural area vote went to 
Hertzog and three Ministers lost their 
seats. The Nationalists had polled 
more than 30 per cent of all votes and 
had improved their position in the 
House from five to twenty-seven seats. 
Labour had four seats, independents 



six and the Unionists thirty-nine. The 
future for the South African Party was 
therefore insecure and they could only 
hope to carry on effectively with the 
help of the Unionists and 
Independents. 



30 : East African Campaign 

Since the outbreak of the war British 
and German contingents had been 
skirmishing incessantly on the 
frontiers of East Africa. The position 
was unsatisfactory, but Britain had her 
hands too full in Europe to tackle this 
outpost campaign seriously. She had 
merely kept the pot simmering, 
waiting no doubt till South Africa had 
cleared up her troubles in the south 
and was in a position to help. Under 
von Lettow Vorbeck the Germans had 
been more enterprising, and his small 
but efficiently bush-trained army of 
2,000 German officers and 20,000 
native askaris had crossed the borders 
of Nyasaland and the Congo and were 
attacking the Kenya-Uganda railways. 

In the second half of 1915, however, 
Britain was in a position to take the 
East African war more seriously and 



began sending out more troops. But 
even so, Major-General Tighe did not 
seem able to get going and a naval 
assault on the port of Tanga proved a 
failure. 

Beyond sending a few troops to 
Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia the 
Union had not been in a position to 
send men abroad till South-West 
Africa was cleared up. But now the 
campaign in East Africa was being 
freely talked about and volunteers 
were being called for service there as 
well as to make up an infantry brigade 
and five battalions of heavy artillery 
for service in Europe. 

South African troops had been well 
paid in the South-West African 
campaign, but in these new campaigns 
they were to receive only the King's 
shilling per day. There was 
considerable pressure, especially from 



the Unionists and Labour, to bring the 
pay into line with that of the other 
Dominions; so the Government 
decided to make up the difference to 
three shillings per day, though this was 
not to apply to the brigade for Europe. 

It was an open secret that in the 
beginning of November my father had 
been offered the command of all 
troops in East Africa, but in view of 
the position in South Africa he had felt 
constrained to refuse the appointment. 
Whether this offer had been made as a 
compliment to his military 
achievements or in deference to the 
fact that South Africa would be 
supplying the major portion of the 
East African contingent, is not known. 
Britain might have been more pleased 
to see Botha in this position, but his 
absence from the Union was out of the 
question. 



Early in 1916, General Smith-Dorrien 
was appointed. But on the way to 
South Africa he was taken seriously 
ill; at Cape Town he was carried off on 
a stretcher and taken to Muizenberg, 
and it soon became apparent that he 
would need a long convalescence 
before he would be fit for active duty. 
Once more the command, was offered 
to my father. By this time he felt he 
could be spared; in any case he was 
tired of the bickerings of the political 
world, and yearned for action. 

It was with reluctance, however, that 
he left his friend Botha, behind, now 
burdened in addition with another 
portfolio. 

In Europe the Germans were grimly 
but slowly bludgeoning; their bloody 
way into Verdun. 



On 10th February, 1916, it was 
officially announced that my father 
had accepted the command in East 
Africa with the rank of Lieutenant- 
General in the British Army - 
Britain's second youngest general. 
Brigadier-General J.H.V. Crowe says: 
"It was a bold stroke to entrust the 
command of these bodies of troops 
and the carrying out of these 
operations to a man who was not a 
soldier, who had practically no 
experience in handling any 
considerable force. Knowing what one 
does now, one can only say that the 
Government were wonderfully lucky, 
for it would have been difficult to have 
found a more suitable commander than 
General Smuts proved himself to be." 
He cannot resist adding the pleasant 
quip, however, that: "Lest other poli- 
ticians should attempt a similar role, I 



would say that General Smuts was 
successful in spite of being a politi- 
cian." Concerning the converging 
movements of my father's three 
columns on Keetmanshoop Crowe 
says: "The operations were 
characterised by peculiarly daring and 
successful strategy." 

Lloyd George summed up the position 
of a politician becoming a general very 
succinctly when he says of generals: 
"... there is no profession where 
experience and training count less in 
comparison with judgment and flair." 

My father left Irene Station on the 
night of 11th February. As a small boy 
I had grown weary of the protracted 
proceedings of the evening, so my 
father carried me on to the platform in 
his arms and took me 'into the train 
with him. When the time came for the 
train to depart he kissed my mother 



good-bye and also the rest of the 
family, and then with a sigh, Levi 
says, set me down and gave a last 
wave as the train clattered into the 
might. 

At Durban he paused for only twenty 
minutes before boarding a steamer for 
Kilindini. 

The Pretoria News remarked, "The 
appointment is a tribute to his military 
genius and a compliment to South 
Africa." Mr. Asquith said in the House 
of Commons of the new Commander- 
in-Chief: "We can have the utmost 
confidence in General Smuts, in view 
of his varied military experience. 

On 19th February he arrived in 
Mombasa. While on board he had 
heard that our forces had received a 
severe check at Salaita Hill. To this 
position he proceeded with all haste, 



making a personal reconnaissance to 
within two miles of the base of the 
Hill. He then went by car to Kajiado 
and later to Longido West, whence he 
had a good view of Mem and 
Kampfontein, Engare Nanyuki and 
Ngare Nairobi, all focal points in his 
immediate strategic position. He then 
continued on his way to Nairobi, 
where he arrived on the 23rd. Here he 
established his headquarters. The 
settlers and citizens wanted to lionise 
and entertain him, but he would not 
have this, for the rains were coming 
and he had work to do. 

The natural strength of the German 
positions in East Africa was 
formidable. They started at 
Kilimanjaro and ran down a series of 
high mountains and big rivers to the 
coast. It was a land of dense bush, of 



mosquito, jigger flea and horse- 
sickness fly. 

His army was an amazingly polyglot 
one. There were men from the United 
Kingdom, from South Africa, Cape 
Corps, Gold Coast, Nigeria and the 
West Indies; from Kashmir, Jhind, 
Bhurtpur and Kaparthalu; Boer settlers 
from East Africa; Rhodesians, King's 
African Rifles native troops, Uganda 
contingents, Arabs, as well as Belgian 
and Portuguese troops. 

His staff he took over almost without 
change from General Smith-Dorrien. 
Some were highly-trained regular 
officers; most were just enthusiastic 
militant citizens. 

I can here do no better than let my 
father describe the campaign himself, 
as he did so ably in a long foreword to 
a book by Brigadier-General 



J.H.V. Crowe, his G.O.C. Artillery in 
East Africa. I make no apology for 
quoting thus freely, for I feel that not 
only does my father speak better for 
himself than anybody else could, but 
also that a better study of the man is 
afforded by this means. This foreword 
to Crowe's book 13 is one of the fullest 
and most lucid of the forewords 
written by him. It is also the most 
authoritative summary of the 
campaign. 

Several of the minor side-shows of the 
world-war [my father says] are not 
only replete with incident, adventure, 
and interest to the general reader, but 
deserve the careful attention of the 
military student as types of campaigns 
successfully conducted under very 



General Smuts's Campaign in East Africa, 
with acknowledgement to Mr. John Murray. 



novel conditions. General Botha's 
South-West African campaign, for 
instance, will ever remain a model 
desert campaign in which water and 
transport difficulties, considered 
insuperable by the enemy, were 
successfully overcome, and brilliant 
and daring strategy resulted in the 
rapid collapse of the enemy. Our East 
African campaign of 1916, again, 
presents a striking instance of a 
tropical campaign in which within the 
space of ten months a vast territory 
was occupied in the face of a resolute 
and powerful enemy backed up by 
natural obstacles and climatic 
difficulties of the most formidable 
character. These matters are dealt with 
in considerable detail by General 
Crowe, but it may be permitted me 
here to direct attention to some of the 



more general features of this 
campaign. 

During the nineteen months which had 
elapsed since the outbreak of the war 
before my arrival in East Africa, the 
enemy had on the whole been superior 
to us both in strategy and effective 
striking force, and it says much for the 
tenacity of our defence that during that 
period British East Africa was not 
overwhelmed. The enemy, while 
entrenching himself in our territory 
and successfully striking minor blows 
at us in many directions and 
unceasingly threatening our long 
railway communications with the 
coast at many points, wisely foresaw 
that the real struggle would come later, 
and devoted his attention mainly to the 
recruitment and training of a large 
native army under German officers. 
The word had gone forth from Berlin 



that East Africa, the jewel of the 
German Colonial Empire, was to be 
held at all costs, and the German 
commander, Colonel von Lettow 
Vorbeck, was the man to carry out this 
order to the bitter end. The initial 
stocks of guns, machine-guns, rifles, 
and ammunition were from time to 
time very largely augmented by 
several blockade runners, and heavy 
artillery was supplied by the 
Konigsberg and other warships on that 
coast. When, therefore, I arrived in 
February, 1916, with South African 
reinforcements to take the offensive, I 
found opposed to me a very large 
army, in effective strength not much 
smaller than my own, well trained and 
ably commanded, formidably 
equipped with artillery and machine- 
guns, immune against most tropical 
diseases, very mobile and able to live 



on the country, largely untroubled by 
transport difficulties, and with a 
morale in some respects higher than 
that of our troops, who, in inferior 
strength, had borne the heat and the 
burden of defence for the last eighteen 
months. 

Powerful as was the enemy's military 
force, the physical and climatic 
difficulties of the country added vastly 
to his power of defence. For 130 miles 
from the coast to the neighbourhood of 
the Kilimanjaro Mountain the enemy 
territory was protected by the high 
mountain ranges of the Usambara and 
Pare Mountains. The only practicable 
gap in this natural rampart was a space 
about four or five miles wide between 
the northern extremity of the Pare 
Mountains and the foothills of the 
Kilimanjaro, in which Taveta lies and 
in which the enemy had been 



entrenching and fortifying himself for 
the previous eighteen months. This 
dangerous gap, in which the main 
enemy force was concentrated, was the 
gateway - then very much closed - to 
German East Africa, and towards it 
my predecessor, Major-General 
M.J. Tighe, had been building a 
railway and laying water pipe lines 
over the waterless Serengeti Plains. 
About eight miles in front of the 
Taveta gap stands like a sentinel 
Salaita Hill, on which our forces had 
made a disastrous attack the very day 
on which I sailed from South Africa. 

It must here be interposed that the 
Salaita Hill setback had been a serious 
one. This conspicuous hill rises 
abruptly from flat, dense bush, and 
owing to faulty intelligence or poor 
reconnaissance it was believed that 
only the hill itself was held. When the 



South African troops attacked they ran 
into deadly machine-gun and small- 
arms fire in the bush itself, before 
reaching the base of the hill. This 
surprise, combined with the almost 
completely restricted visibility, made 
the various formations lose contact 
and brought about a state of confusion. 
When, therefore, my father took over 
after this Salaita Hill disaster he found 
the troops generally somewhat shaken 
in morale. It did not take him long to 
rectify this. The secret was person- 
ality, aggressiveness and success. 
After this initial setback, the South 
African troops conspicuously disting- 
uished themselves and brought great 
honour to our arms. Let us turn again 
to my father's description: 

This gap had to be forced at whatever 
cost. I preferred to maneuver the 
enemy out of it, and after spending a 



week in the most searching 
reconnaissance of the weak spots of 
the enemy's dispositions and in 
misleading movements and ruses, I 
advanced the bulk of my force by 
night against the enemy's left flank, 
took from him the foothills of 
Kilimanjaro by surprise and without 
any effort on the morning of March 
8th, and within twenty-four hours 
compelled him to evacuate his 
practically impregnable Taveta 
positions. There followed the series of 
actions at Reata and Latema Hills, at 
Euphorbia Hill, at Rasthaus, at 
Massaikraal on the Soko Nassai River, 
at Kahe Hill and station, and on the 
Ruwu River which, within the next 
twelve days, gave us complete 
possession of the entire Moschi- 
Aruscha area, and finally drove the 
enemy army after repeated defeats 



over the Ruwu into the Pare 
Mountains and down the Tanga 
Railway towards the Usambara 
Mountains. Never had I seen so 
sudden and complete a transformation 
in the spirits of opposing forces; our 
men, who had retreated before the 
enemy in the confusion at Salaita Hill, 
now advanced with dauntless elan 
against the hidden foe in the dense 
bush of the mountain slopes or the 
Ruwu swamps. 

The enemy, on whom fortune had 
hitherto almost invariably smiled, now 
found himself suddenly and repeatedly 
manoeuvred or hurled out of his 
carefully prepared entrenchments. And 
this spirit of our men was destined in 
the following ten months to carry them 
through the greatest privations and 
over the most appalling obstacles to 
the distant valleys of the Rufiji and 



Ulanga Rivers in the south of German 
East Africa. The campaign henceforth 
assumed more and more the character 
of a campaign against nature, in which 
climate, geography, and disease fought 
more effectively against 'us than the 
well-trained forces of the enemy. 

The pause which followed on the 
occupation of the Moschi-Aruscha 
districts gave an opportunity for the 
full consideration of the strategical 
problems ahead of us, and the rainy 
season which set in with extreme 
violence forced us to consider how the 
climate and seasons were going to 
affect our campaign. Our object was 
not merely the defeat of the enemy, 
but the effective occupation of his 
huge territory in the shortest possible 
time. Merely to follow the enemy in 
his very mobile retreat might prove an 
endless game, with the additional 



danger that the enemy forces might 
split up into guerrilla bands doubling 
back in all directions and rendering 
effective occupation of the country 
impossible. In view of the size of the 
country it was therefore necessary to 
invade it from various points with 
columns strong enough to deal with 
any combination that could be brought 
against them, and for these columns as 
they advanced to clear the country also 
laterally. 

General Northey was operating 
eastwards and north-eastwards from 
Lake Nyassa; a Belgian column was 
launched eastwards from Lake Kivu 
(to the north of Lake Tanganyika); in 
April another Belgian column and a 
British column were set in motion in a 
southerly direction from the Uganda 
border west of Lake Victoria Nyanza; 
a mounted brigade under van Deventer 



was launched southwards from 
Aruscha to Kondoa Irangi, which is 
the most important strategic point on 
the interior plateau of the enemy 
territory; and finally, towards the end 
of May, three columns advanced 
south-eastward from the Moschi area 
against the Pare Mountains and 
towards the Usambara Mountains. 

The combined result of all these 
movements, as far as possible co- 
ordinated for mutual assistance into 
groups according to the anticipated 
strength of the enemy in the various 
localities, was that by the beginning of 
September two-thirds of the enemy 
country had been effectively occupied 
up to and including the whole of the 
Central Railway from Dar-es-Salaam 
to Lake Tanganyika; and to the south 
of this railway General Northey had 
occupied a large territory up to and 



including Iringa. The successful 
occupation of so much country in so 
short a time was largely due to the 
careful adoption and coordination of 
the various lines of advance, which 
compelled a general retreat of the 
enemy without the chance of any other 
forces remaining behind or doubling 
back to molest our lines of 
communication. 

It is impossible for those unacquainted 
with German East Africa to realise the 
physical, transport, and supply 
difficulties of the advance over this 
magnificent country of unrivalled 
scenery and fertility, consisting of 
great mountain systems alternating 
with huge plains; with a great rainfall 
and wide, unbridged rivers in the 
regions of the mountains, and 
insufficient surface water on the plains 
for the needs of an army; with 



magnificent bush and primeval forest 
everywhere, pathless, trackless, except 
for the spoor of the elephant or the 
narrow footpaths of the natives; the 
malaria mosquito everywhere, except 
on the highest plateaux; everywhere 
belts infested with the deadly tsetse fly 
which make an end of all animal 
transport; the ground almost 
everywhere, a rich black or red cotton 
soil, which any transport converts into 
mud in the rain or dust in the drought. 
In the rainy seasons which occupy 
about half the year much of the 
country becomes a swamp and 
military movements become 

impracticable. And everywhere the 
fierce heat of equatorial Africa, 
accompanied by a wild luxuriance of 
parasitic life, breeding tropical 
diseases in the unacclimatised whites. 
These conditions make life for the 



white man in that country far from a 
pleasure, trip; if, in addition, he has to 
perform real hard work and make long 
marches on short rations the trial 
becomes very severe; if, above all, 
huge masses of men and material have 
to be moved over hundreds of miles in 
a great military expedition, against a 
mobile and alert foe, the strain 
becomes unendurable. And the chapter 
of accidents in this region of the 
unknown! Unseasonable rains cut off 
expeditions for weeks from their 
supply bases; animals died by the 
thousand after passing through an 
unknown fly belt; mechanical trans- 
port got bogged in the marshes, held 
up by bridges washed away or moun- 
tain passes demolished by sudden 
floods. And the gallant boys, marching 
far ahead under the pitiless African 
sun, with fever raging in their blood, 



pressed ever on after the retreating 
enemy, often on much reduced rations 
and without any of the small comforts 
which in this climate are real 
necessities in the story of human 
endurance this campaign deserves a 
very special place, and the heroes who 
went through it uncomplainingly, 
doggedly, are entitled to all 
recognition and reverence. Their 
commander-in-chief will remain 
eternally proud of them. 

Here I would like to add that their 
proud Commander-in-Chief, my 
father, was himself a fever-ridden 
wreck. He had been bitten by an 
infected anopheles mosquito some- 
where in the Pangani region and had 
been laid up at Luchomo with a bad 
bout for some days. Like the rest of his 
men he never quite recovered from his 
attacks of malaria, and for a long while 



they were to leave him white, weak, 
but undaunted. For the rest of his life, 
whenever he plunged suddenly into a 
cold climate he would get mild 
recurrences of this old malady. This 
was especially so when air travel came 
into vogue. The attacks were not 
severe, but for a day he would have 
shivering fits and be listless and 
peevish. 

Some idea of the ravages of malaria 
may be gained from the fact that in 
1916, of the 58,000 troops, 50,000 
went down with attacks. In 1917 the 
figure rose to 72,000 of whom 499 
cases were fatal. The incidence of 
disease casualties to battle casualties 
was in the ratio of 31 to 1. 

He continues the narrative, giving 
these reasons for his great hurry: 



It may be said that I expected too 
much of my men, and that I imposed 
too hard a task on them under the 
awful conditions of this tropical 
campaigning. I do not think so. I was 
sure it was not possible to conduct this 
campaign successfully in any other 
way. Hesitation to take risks, slower 
moves, closer inspection of the 
auspices, would only have meant the 
same disappearance of my men from 
fever and other tropical diseases, 
without any corresponding 

compensation to show in the defeat of 
the enemy and the occupation of his 
country. Timid Fabiau strategy would, 
of all, have been the most fatal in this 
country and against this enemy. 
Besides we had often to hurry to get 
out of a deadly stretch of country or to 
cover a wide waterless belt, or because 
great and rapid moves held the 



promise of big prizes. The most 
important centre of Kondoa-Irangi 
could only have been captured almost 
bloodlessly after that famous forced 
march of van Deventer's from 
Aruscha; Wilhelmstad was occupied 
bloodlessly after a relentless pursuit of 
the enemy for 130 miles from the 
Ruwu River; Dar-es-Salaam, Moro- 
goro, and the Central Railway were 
captured without opposition after the 
tremendous march from the Lukigura 
River north of the Nguru Mountains, 
in which continuous fighting took 
place all the way and every man who 
did not fight was occupied behind in 
bridge-building, road-making, and 
bush-cutting. And even when these 
places had been captured the advance 
was continued southward without 
pause for another 100 miles of 
continuous fighting through the 



Ulugura Mountains to Kissaki and the 
Mgeta River in the strong hope that 
this supreme effort might end the 
campaign. One hundred and eighty 
miles of the most difficult mountain 
and river country had been covered in 
one month in the face of an enemy 
who was fighting every inch of the 
ground of which he was out- 
manoeuvred by wide and difficult 
turning movements. Simultaneously 
General van Deventer on my right was 
making even a longer march from 
Kondoa-Irangi southwards to 
Kilimatinde and the Central Railway, 
and from there eastwards to Kilossa, 
and from there again southwards to the 
Great Ruaha River - all in one conti- 
nuous advance, with fighting most of 
the way, a march in which some of his 
units actually covered 800 miles in 
that awful country and climate. It is 



true that efforts like these cannot be 
made without inflicting the greatest 
hardships on all, but it is equally true 
that the commander who shrinks from 
such efforts should stay at home. The 
transport and supply difficulties which 
arose from these great efforts were 
enormous and had to be dealt with 
mostly by improvised staffs. The way 
they were dealt with and finally 
overcome deserves the close attention 
of the military student. 

Yes, here certainly had been no 
"Timid Fabian Strategy". Here was the 
same full-blooded dash and elan he 
had displayed in the Boer War. He 
took risks, he said, but we can rest 
assured that those risks had all been 
carefully weighed and that they had. 
been justified. His moves were all 
based on meticulous assessment. That 



is why his men had such blind, a most 
worshipping, confidence in him. 

He goes on: 

The problems created by so big a 
campaign and so rapid an. advance in 
a country which was still virgin soil, 
practically untouched by the hand of 
civilisation, without roads or bridges 
or any communications, except two 
effectively destroyed railway lines, 
were very great indeed. The 
establishment of means of 
communication, the creation of sea- 
bases as our advance rapidly 
progressed southward, were tasks of 
great magnitude, involving time and 
prodigious labour, and requiring 
appliances which could not be secured 
in those distant parts. I found 
Mombasa our only sea-base in 
February, 1915; in the following July 
the occupation of Tanga and the 



restoration of that wrecked port and 
the railway from it enabled us very 
materially to shorten our lengthy 
railway communications to the 
interior; in September Dar-es-Salaam 
had to be adopted and restored as our 
sea-base, and as everything there had 
been effectively destroyed, and such 
appliances as had existed were never 
meant for an undertaking of the 
magnitude of our campaign, it took us 
several mouths' unremitting labour to 
prepare it for our purposes. In October, 
again, we commenced the preparation 
of Kilwa as a new sea-base from 
which big forces could operate south 
of the Rufiji River; there was a 
magnificent natural harbour, but 
absolutely nothing in the way of 
landing appliances or arrangements. 
Finally, before I left in January, 1917, 
I had begun the preparation of Lindi 



farther south as our final sea-base, in 
case the enemy forces should escape to 
the southern frontier of German East 
Africa. Only those who have had 
experience of improvising sea-bases 
for the operations of large forces can 
appreciate what the preparation of 
these four bases meant to us in labour 
and trouble of all kinds. The devotion 
of our administrative staffs and the 
work of our pioneer, railway, and 
labour units in that tropical moist heat 
of the African coast and low country 
have been above praise. 

While during the months from 
September to December, 1916, Dar-es- 
Salaam was being prepared as a base, 
and the Central Railway from it was 
being restored, and the sixty or 
seventy wrecked bridges along it, 
many of very considerable 
dimensions, were being rebuilt; while 



Kilwa harbour was being made ready 
for the reception of a large force which 
was being transferred to it, my 
attention was also preoccupied with 
the two other tasks; the evacuation of 
our sick from the country, and the 
situation which had arisen in the 
interior on General Northey's front. I 
believe between October and 
December we evacuated between 
12,000 and 15,000 patients, mostiy 
malaria cases, from our hospitals and 
ambulances along the Central 
Railway. Nothing could show more 
eloquently the deadly nature of the 
country into which we had now 
moved, and our only consolation was 
that the Rufiji Valley into which we 
had driven our enemy was more 
deadly still. While this evacuation was 
going on, General Northey was, with 
van Deventer's assistance, waging a 



grim struggle in the direction of Iringa 
against the enemy forces which had 
broken away from the Belgian and 
British columns in the Tabora area. 
The retreat of these German forces 
from the north impinged violently 
against Northey's lines of com- 
munication and broke them in some 
places, but by December the situation 
had cleared and Northey had given the 
enemy some staggering blows and 
reduced him to the defensive. 

By the middle of December most of 
this work on our bases and 
communications had been completed, 
the short rainy season was passing, 
and I was prepared to resume what I 
hoped would be our final advance. By 
Christmas van Deventer and Northey 
were on the move in the interior, and 
on January 1st, 1917, I moved 
southwards to the Rufiji; while 



General Hoskins, who was based on 
Kilwa, moved northwest in order by 
this converging movement either to 
enclose the enemy on the Rufiji or 
compel his retreat to the southern 
frontier of his colony. All our moves 
were successful, and the great Rufiji 
River was, on January 3rd, crossed by 
General Beves after a flank march 
which will remain memorable even in 
this campaign of fine marching. Every 
effort was made, after flinging the 
enemy across the Rufiji, to join hands 
with Hoskins and cut off his retreat. 
But once again it was proved to us that 
in the African bush, with its limited 
visibility, it is practically impossible to 
enclose an enemy determined to 
escape. 

While these operations were going 
forward, I was, about the middle of 
January, ordered to relinquish my 



command in order that I might, at the 
request of the South African 
Government, represent South Africa 
on the forthcoming Imperial 
Conference, and on January 20th I 
sailed from Dar-es-Salaam, with the 
deepest regret that I had not been 
allowed the privilege of finishing my 
work. After I left the heavy rainy 
season set in almost immediately and 
put a stop to our further moves, and 
the enemy was thereby enabled to 
retreat to the south. The rainy season 
lasted till June, when the advance was 
vigorously resumed by General van 
Deventer, with the result that by the 
beginning of December the bulk of the 
enemy's remaining forces had been 
captured, and the remnants still in the 
field had retired over the Rovuma 
River into Portuguese East Africa. 



Before concluding, he pays tribute to 
the German commander and points out 
the significance of the East African 
Campaign: 

The enemy's stubborn defence of his 
last colony is not only a great tribute 
to the military qualities of General von 
Lettow, but is a proof of the supreme 
importance attached by the German 
Imperial Government to this African 
colony, both as an economic asset and 
as a strategic point of departure for the 
establishment of the future Central 
African Empire which is a cardinal 
feature in the Pan-Germanic dream. 
With German East Africa restored to 
the Kaiser at the end of the war., and a 
large askari army recruited and trained 
from its 8,000,000 natives, the 
conquest or forced acquisition of the 
Congo Free State, Portuguese East and 
West Africa, and perhaps even the 



recovery of the Kameroons may be 
only a matter of time. In this way this 
immense tropical territory, with almost 
unlimited economic and military 
possibilities, and provided with excel- 
lent submarine bases on both the 
Atlantic and. Indian seaboards, might 
yet become an important milestone on 
the road to World-Empire. The East 
African campaign, therefore, while 
apparently a minor side-show in this 
great world- war, may yet have 
important bearings on the future 
history of the world. And it is to be 
hoped that our rulers will bear these 
wider and obscurer issues in mind 
when terms of peace come to be 
arranged at the end of this war. I 
cannot end these few introductory 
words without expressing the fervent 
prayer that a land where so many of 
our heroes lost their lives or their 



health, where under the most terrible 
and exacting conditions human loyalty 
and human service were poured out so 
lavishly in a great Cause, may never 
be allowed to become a menace to the 
future peaceful development of the 
world. I am sure my gallant boys, dead 
or living, would wish for no other or 
greater reward. 

The East African campaign, fought 
over 160,000 square miles of some of 
the most difficult and unhealthy 
country on earth, had been not only a 
lightning stroke but a great success. It 
might have borne decisive results right 
at the start had my father's old friend, 
Jaap van Deventer, not been tardy in 
coming up to close a gap as arranged. 
Van Deventer arrived too late and the 
trap was sprung and Von Lettow lived 
to tell another tale. However, com- 
munications were virtually non- 



existent, and dense bush shut out the 
world. My father readily forgave him. 
For his services van Deventer was 
knighted after the war. 

My father tells this story of an incident 
of the campaign which shows how 
completely unwilling he was ever to 
accept defeat. The retreating German 
army was streaming down the opposite 
bank in the bush between the 
mountains and the broad river. To 
head him off before he took up very 
strong positions in the mountains, we 
had to get across the swollen river. It 
was a tactical requirement of great 
urgency. My father got along his Chief 
of Engineers and asked how long it 
would take his sappers, with 
everybody assisting, to put a, bridge 
across the river for his troops, 
transport and guns. "Four weeks, sir," 
the Chief replied. "Can't you do it in 



less?" my father asked. "No, sir: four 
weeks is the bare minimum." This was 
depressing news. But while my father 
was still on the river a major in the 
Engineers came along. He put the 
same question, to the major. The 
officer thought for a while. "Ten days, 
sir," he said. "Well then, go ahead," 
my father said, "I will give you all 
available help." In ten days, true to the 
major's word, they were across. 

In a work by Brigadier-General 
J.J. Collyer, my father paid this tribute 
to his "real heroes of the East African 
campaign - the South African civilian 
soldiers": "They kept marching and 
fighting on. From the Lumi to the 
Rufiji, from the Indian Ocean to the 
Great Lakes they fought their way 
through, and in eleven months had 
mastered a huge stretch of primeval 
Africa. They stood a test almost 



beyond human endurance... They have 
received scant recognition... Let us not 
begrudge the heroes of the Western 
Front the glory that is theirs and that is 
South Africa's. But equally let us not 
forget that there was no less heroism 
in East Africa, no less endurance to the 
utmost limit of human nature, no less a 
contribution to the heroic record of 
South Africa. Thousands of them lie 
there, in the farthest north of our 
African Trek..." 

In his time my father must have 
written more forewords to books than 
any other person. They cover every 
branch of activity and invariably add 
much to the literary as well as the 
intrinsic value of the works. All have a 
distinct character and pleasant flavour. 
They differ considerably from the 
more formal forewords that usually 
adorn books. 



This one to Crowe's work is a case in 
point. It is one of his best. But quite 
his nicest is the one to Deney's Reitz's 
Commando. No South African volume 
was considered complete without an 
introduction by my father. It took up 
much of his time, but he never 
grumbled. 



31 : Sidelights On The Campaign 

What my father, as a personality, 
meant to his troops is ably described 
by Francis Brett Young, who was a 
medical officer with the forces, in his 
Marching on Tanga: "I think the thing 
which most sustained our confidence 
and made us embark with such high 
hopes upon the second phase of the 
East African operations was our 
absolute confidence in the leadership 
of Smuts. That he was a fine strategist, 
the move on Moschi, in spite of the 
failure of the northern enveloping 
column, had shown us. Of his personal 
courage we had been assured by the 
incidents of the Lumi fight; but there 
was yet another factor - in this case 
one might almost have called it a 
personal attribute - in his success 
which demanded our confidence, and 
that was the luck which had followed 



him throughout his career. Everyone 
believed in his fortune no less than in 
his attainments; and it was this belief 
that sent us so happily on our way... In 
this war with this General nothing was 
impossible." 

After my father's bout of malaria at 
Luchomo Brett Young wrote: "Smuts 
was going back to the front. Again we 
began to feel as if the campaign were 
getting under way. The more I think of 
it the more I realise how the 
personality of that one man dominated 
the whole conduct of the war in East 
Africa. And I sometimes wondered 
what would have happened if fortune 
had not carried him safely through the 
risks he faced daily... We should have 
lacked the enormous psychical asset 
which his masterful courage gave us, 
and I think that we should have 
endured our privations and our 



sickness with a less happy con- 
fidence." 

My father had with him in East Africa 
the famous Major P.J. Pretorius, one 
of Africa's greatest elephant hunters. I 
heard him recount to some friends 
once how he came across Pretorius. In 
1915 a German raider, the cruiser 
Konigsberg, disappeared suddenly off 
the coast of East Africa, and it was 
suspected that it had taken refuge in 
the mouth of the Rufiji, but the Navy 
were unable to locate it. The first my 
father heard of it was, while he was 
still in the Union, getting a cable from 
the Admiralty, "Have you an elephant 
hunter Pretorius in South Africa? We 
would like him for a special mission." 
This was a bit vague and cryptic, but 
they managed to get held of Pretorius 
and sent him up. The Rufiji near its 
mouth turns into a vast mangrove 



swamp with huge overhanging trees, 
large enough to shelter even a cruiser. 
Pretorius knew the Rufji well for he 
had hunted and farmed there before 
the war. It did not take him long to 
locate the Konigsberg, hidden about 
twenty miles inland. So the monitors 
Severn and Mersey were despatched, 
and from a great distance, with their 
massive guns, knocked out the raider. 
After that my father made Pretorius his 
chief scout. He was an absolutely 
deadly shot and the natives knew and 
venerated him. Under him he had 
about 150 native askaris, and with 
these he used literally to live well 
behind the enemy lines and send in 
valuable reports. My father says he 
was worth a small army in himself. 
Once the enemy tried to ambush him 
in some grass, but in a flash he had 



coolly shot eight of them and 
decamped. 

I came across Pretorius in 1927, 
poaching elephants along the then 
undefined Rhodesian-Mozambique 
border near Pafuri, and again during 
the Abyssinian campaign in the 
Second World War, by which time, 
however, he had grown rather old for 
active service. 

The Konigsberg was to be very 
troublesome for a long while to come, 
for the enterprise of Lieutenant- 
Commander Schoonfeld had salvaged 
her ten 4 1-inch high-velocity guns. 
These were to be converted into 
mobile land guns and to outrange our 
own artillery throughout the campaign 
and to harass our men incessantly. 

In July, 1916, a visit to his troops in 
East Africa by General Botha did 



much to cheer up his weary, fever- 
ridden armies. He had come up 
primarily to see his men, but also to 
have discussions with my father on the 
problems that beset him, as was his 
wont. 

After the Kilimanjaro line fell, my 
father for a time made his headquarters 
high up on the mountain slopes in the 
old German boma at Moschi. From 
here on clear days he could see the 
smooth domed head of this most 
majestic mountain towering with its 
eternal cap of snow, into the blue 
heavens above. The prospect of climb- 
ing it fascinated him, but time never 
allowed him the opportunity to 
conquer Kibo. He spoke with a 
wistfulness all his life of his ambition 
to scale this massive old volcano. He 
never did find time, and it was left to 
my brother, returning from Cambridge 



in 1929, to climb to the summit and to 
put his name with the then dozen 
others in the little tin at Kaiser 
Wilhelm. Spitze. But the mountain did 
not quite beat my father, for during the 
East African campaign in March, 
1941, he flew over it in his Lodestar 
aircraft at a height of 21,000 feet and 
looked down upon the vast ice- 
plugged crater and giant glaciers. Of 
this he took a very fine Kodachrome 
colour film with his cine. My wife was 
with him in the plane, and though she 
and the others felt dizzy with the 
altitude, she says my father moved 
about with his cine quite unaffected 
and delighted with events. They had 
no oxygen apparatus with them, and 
this last-minute decision to fly over 
Kilimanjaro was merely a whim 
developed when he saw the mountain 
loom alongside in the clear air. 



While my father was away in East 
Africa, and subsequently when he was 
in England, he never failed regularly 
to send each of us a brief scribbled 
postcard. My mother faithfully kept 
my East African postcards for me. 
They are as one would expect from a 
fond parent to a toddler, starting 
usually "Greetings, Jannie", having 
some short remark about big rivers or 
mountains or wild animals and usually 
ending, "Look well after Mamma, 
Love, Pappa." 

For this touching paternal devotion, I 
regret my youthful filial affections left 
much to be desired, for a few months 
after his departure, I told my mother to 
write to him that I had now found a 
new "father" in my uncle, Jimmie 
Krige, and that he need not bother to 
return from the war! My mother did, 




Looking from the window of his Lodestar at Kilimanjaro - 1940 



and my father found it a huge joke and 
never failed to tell the story at my 
expense. 

About this same tender age in life I 
had been much impressed by the 
bellowing and dust-pawing antics of a 
huge Friesland bull, Jan, we had on the 
farm. In a mood of great confidence I 
asked my father one day: "Which is 
the most powerful, God or Jan:" He 
has frequently quoted this question 
since as a problem in relative values. 
Years after, my young son Jan, who 
had just begun school and was much 
impressed by his teacher, asked my 
wife, equally naively, whom she 
thought cleverer, Oupa 14 or Mrs. 
Hibbins. This happened during my 
father's long fatal illness, and when 
my wife recounted the tale to him he 



Grandfather 



found it most amusing, and had many 
a laugh over it. 

When my father reminisced about East 
Africa, it was seldom about the war, 
but rather about the breathtaking 
beauty of parts of the country or of 
such homely matters as jigger fleas in 
one's toes. True, he did mention the 
building of the bridge across the river 
or the guns of the Konigsberg, but he 
preferred to talk about the vast crater 
of Ngorongoro, of Kibo and Mawenzi, 
of the great craters Meru, Longonot, 
Longido and of the Pare and Usambara 
mountains. To him the interest and 
beauty of the country had transcended 
the horrors of war. 

While my father was away in East 
Africa my mother got me a small 
khaki uniform, which I wore with 
great pride. On the shoulder epaulets 
were elephants sent by my father from 



East Africa. I called myself the "King 
of the Elephants". The Nationalist 
newspapers called me a damn Khaki 
and were so annoyed that they did me 
the privilege of putting me in their 
cartoons. Eventually I grew tired of 
this prickly uniform, and all the fuss 
and saluting, and got rid of it. 

From East Africa my father brought 
back his camp stretcher, over which a 
mosquito-proof canopy of gauze and 
canvas fitted. To this contraption I 
took such a liking that I insisted for a 
long while on sleeping in it next to my 
father in his room. When I grew tired 
of it eventually, it was taken over by 
Fido the Airedale and subsequently by 
Jackie the monkey. The green 
Vauxhall car which he had used in the 
campaign he also brought back, 
together with George Hodgson, his 
chauffeur for many years. 



My father also used to recount, with a 
chuckle, stories of his dinner parties 
on the campaign, when he invited his 
senior officers to bully beef and hard 
tack. Their faces could never quite 
hide the look of surprise as this frugal 
repast was ushered in. 

In the early ninete en-thirties my father 
attended a dinner in London in honour 
of von Lettow Vorbeck. It was a 
pleasant affair at which mutual 
compliments were paid. The design 
was also to improve relations with 
Germany. 

My father has always had a high 
regard for von Lettow, and thereafter 
they remained friends. After the 
Second World War my father sent the 
old man food parcels - which were 
much appreciated, They corresponded 
on occasions, and after my father's 



death vou Lettow wrote my mother a 
most touching letter. 



32 : War In Europe 

In mid January, 1917, while still on 
the Rufiji, my father was recalled to 
the Union. Here he was told that he 
would have to proceed to England 
immediately to attend the first 
Imperial Conference, for which Botha 
himself could not be spared. General 
Hoskins succeeded my father. Von 
Lettow was still at large, using the 
vastness of Africa for his elusive 
guerrilla tactics. He was never 
captured and surrendered voluntarily 
upon hearing of the armistice. 

Back in the Union my father spoke in 
glowing terms of the conquest of East 
Africa: "Through our own efforts and 
our sacrifice we have secured a voice 
in the ultimate disposal of this sub- 
continent... We have followed in the 
steps of the Voortrekkers and 
pioneers... To those well disposed, 



these were stirring words, but his 
opponents scoffed at this British 
imperialist, this reincarnation of 
Rhodes, who compared himself with 
the Voortrekkers. He had got too big 
for his boots. Let him rather go to 
England, where they liked him so 
much, and stay there. 

To those who jeered that he had grown 
tired of his own small country he 
retorted: "I have heard it stated that 
South Africa is now too small for me. 
I do not want to speak personally: it is 
not a time now to speak personally. 
But let me say this, that South Africa 
is not too small for me, and that every 
drop of blood and every bit of courage 
and determination I have in me will go 
to the service of my country. Whether 
it is here in the Union, whether it is 
away in East Africa, or whether it is in 
the Council Chamber of the Empire, I 



pray that I may have the strength to do 
my duty with courage and 
determination, and I trust that nothing 
I shall ever do will injure the position 
of South Africa." 

In the Union Parliament Merriman 
condemned the ingratitude of the 
Nationalists, after all my father had 
done for the Boer cause in the Boer 
War and after. "That is what he did for 
you, his own people, and for that we 
remember him; for, thank God, we 
English are men enough to 
acknowledge the gallant deeds of our 
enemies." 

On March 17 my father arrived in 
London. He arrived in England's 
deepest hour of gloom. The revolution 
in Russia had almost attained its 
climax; the Tsar and his family had 
been murdered, and the defeated 
Russian armies were about to desert 



the Allies. The unlimited German U- 
boat menace was in full stride and 
threatening to beat England to her 
knees. Serious mutinies were 
occurring in the exhausted French 
armies and there had been changes in 
the Government and the Army. The 
German forces were as yet unchecked 
and were slowly battering to a pulp the 
flower of England and France. German 
morale was high and her belief in 
ultimate victory explicit. 

The United States was yet to make its 
belated appearance. 

By contrast to his mixed reception in 
South Africa, England hailed him as 
the hero of the hour, the conqueror in 
the first big successes of the war. The 
propaganda value of this former Boer 
general, now fighting for Britain, was 
exploited to the full. England needed 
cheering news. Into this world of 



weariness, dejection and disaster my 
father burst with a new message of 
hope and encouragement. He was 
referred to in such eulogistic terms as 
"the most conspicuous figure in Great 
Britain... a remarkable combination of 
talents not usually found in the same 
person, unless, indeed, that person 
belongs to the small and select class of 
which the Caesars and Cromwell's, 
and the Napoleons are the outstanding 
types". 

Mr. Churchill wrote: "At this moment 
there arrives in England from the outer 
marches of the Empire a new and 
altogether extraordinary man... The 
stormy and hazardous roads he has 
travelled by would fill all the acts and 
scenes of a drama. He has warred 
against us - well we knew it. He has 
quelled rebellion against our own flag 
with unswerving loyalty and unfailing 



shrewdness. He has led raids at 
desperate odds and conquered 
provinces by scientific strategy... His 
astonishing career and his versatile 
achievements are only the index of a 
profound sagacity and a cool, far- 
reaching comprehension..." 

My father was overwhelmed by the 
warmth of the reception and the 
spontaneous homage of the people. He 
brushed aside the adulation, protesting 
that he was only a simple Boer. 

On the 20th of March, Lloyd George 
introduced him to the Imperial War 
Cabinet as "one of the most brilliant 
generals in this war". This Cabinet 
consisted of visiting Dominion Prime 
Ministers who were attending the 
Imperial Conference, together with 
members of the British War Cabinet. It 
was a large body devoted primarily to 
an exchange of views, without any 



direct power. Britain has always 
believed in the idea that it was sound 
policy to have Prime Ministers' 
conferences, where, as my father said, 
"the Prime Ministers can blow off 
steam". This safety valve was an 
integral part of the Commonwealth 
system. 

In this Imperial War Cabinet my father 
soon shone forth in his full brilliance. 

Lloyd George, the fiery Celt, had 
succeeded Mr. Asquith in the 
Premiership only a short while before. 

Up to now the war had been far from a 
series of unbroken triumphs for the 
Allies. Hardly had hostilities been 
opened when the French and Belgians 
were in full retreat, as also the handful 
of British that had crossed the 
Channel. The Germans were sitting in 
Brussels and clamouring at the gates 



of the French capital. Shortly after, the 
Russians were decisively defeated at 
Tannenberg and in October the 
Belgian Cabinet fled to France. Britain 
had had her blooding at Ypres. In 

1915 she had failed at the Dardanelles, 
Poland was ravished and countless 
Allied troops were dying on the 
Western Front. Italy, after a long 
delay, made a disastrous entry into the 
fray. Bulgaria decided the easiest prey 
was Serbia, and Britain and France left 
half a million men to languish 
abortively at Salonika. 

1916 brought no better luck. A 
combined offensive failed. There was 
Verdun, the Somme, Romania's 
failure, huge losses by Russia and 
Italy, and the inconclusive naval clash 
at Jutland. 

There were strikes and mutinies and 
changes in the Government and the 



forces. Kitchener was drowned on the 
way to Russia. Churchill paid for the 
Dardanelles. French and Jellicoe went, 
and the Chief of Staff, Robertson. So 
did Austen Chamberlain and Carson. 
Wilson was talking of war aims. 
Ludendorf had sanctioned "unlimited" 
submarine warfare. There was the Irish 
Rebellion and Roger Casement. 

The Lusitania had gone to the bottom 
two years before, and still America 
was struggling to make up her mind. 

Two weeks after his arrival my father 
was entrusted with a mission to the 
French Prime Minister Painleve and to 
the King of the Belgians. The visits 
were exploratory to see what the mini- 
mum demands on Germany would be. 
Painleve was for an early and easy 
peace. When my father pointed out 
that South Africa could not be quite so 
broad-minded over South-West Africa 



the case fell through. Albert of the 
Belgians was worried only about 
Belgium itself. He had been unnerved 
by events. 

At the end of April my father paid a 
special visit to Headquarters in France. 
On his return he submitted to the War 
Cabinet a lengthy survey of the 
"General Strategic and Military 
Situation and Particularly that on the 
Western Front". While stressing here 
that Germany had to be defeated he 
stated: 

I repeat here my frank opinion that 
that will not be merely or even entirely 
a military defeat. A certain substantial 
measure of military success will be 
necessary and must be achieved not 
only because it is necessary for our 
ends, but also as a lasting lesson to 
Prussian militarism. 



But greater forces are fighting for us 
than our armies. This war will be 
settled largely by the imponderable - 
by the forces of public opinion all over 
the world which have been mobilised 
by German outrages ... we should ever 
strive to keep this world opinion on 
our side and not be deflected by 
German methods of barbarism... 

In Salonika, where half a million 
Allied troops were languishing in what 
Germany termed her finest internment 
camp, my father advocated a 
contraction of the front and the release 
of all those not required for a small 
defensive line. 

Possibilities of offensive action which 
at earlier stages of the War were open 
to us are no longer possible and 
several brilliant ideas will not now be 
put to the test of trial. On the contrary 
even our present fields of operation 



may have to be revised and 
contracted... 

Next in importance to the detachment 
of Bulgaria from Central Europe 
would be the detachment of Turkey, 
which might become feasible if the 
Russian Government would definitely 
waive their rights under the Bosphorus 
agreement. The danger, however, of 
Russia going out of the War on some 
pretext or other is so serious and 
would have such far-reaching 
consequences that I do not think we 
should moot the question with her at 
present... I therefore proceed on the 
assumption that our campaign against 
the Turkish Empire will continue in 
full vigour. 

As regards Mesopotamia, we have 
achieved all that we were aiming at 
and can now consolidate our position 



and make it impregnable to any future 
counter-attack... 

The Palestine campaign presents very 
interesting military and even political 
possibilities. As it progresses to 
Jerusalem and Damascus, it will 
threaten the Turkish Empire far more 
gravely than anything we have so far 
undertaken except the Dardanelles and 
Gallipoli campaign... 

There remains for consideration the far 
more important and complicated 
question of the Western Front. I have 
always looked upon it as a misfortune, 
no doubt inevitable under the 
circumstances, that the British forces 
have become so entirely absorbed by 
this front. The result now is that in a 
theatre mainly of the enemy's 
choosing, the two most important 
armies of the Entente are locked up in 
front of almost impregnable positions. 



It is essential to our ends that we 
should keep the initiative and 
offensive, but both are enormously 
difficult... I have no confidence that 
we can break through the enemy lines 
on any large scale... 

We have entered the War in a very 
small way with a small military force 
and not as a principal combatant but 
rather as an auxiliary to France. This 
fact was reflected in our general 
military policy, which was of 
necessity one of great modesty and 
almost complete subordination to that 
of France... we should, after the 
present offensive, resume the 
independence of our military 
direction... The impressions which I 
brought from the Front have since 
been reinforced by the rumour that 
several important members of the 
French Government do not approve of 



General Nivelle's present offensive 
and consider a defensive policy the 
wisest one for the French Army to 
pursue... I feel the danger of a purely 
defensive policy so gravely that I 
would make the following suggestions 
in case the French carry out such a 
policy. 

He suggested that in this contingency 
we should ask the French so take over 
a portion of our line and that we 
should concentrate our forces further 
to the north and endeavour to "recover 
the northern coast of Belgium and 
drive the enemy from Zeebrugge and 
Ostend. This task will be most 
formidable... But however difficult the 
task, something will have to be done 
to continue our offensive... I see more 
advantages in an offensive intended to 
recover the Belgian coast and deprive 
the enemy of two advanced submarine 



bases, than in the present offensive... 
Sir William Robertson, the Chief of 
Staff, had said that France appeared 
unwilling to continue offensive 
operations. If that was true it would 
mean a drastic change in the military 
situation. 

Lloyd George had been impressed by 
my father's advocacy of pushing on 
with the Palestine campaign. It was 
perhaps natural that he should have 
offered my father the command of that 
theatre. He writes: 

In reviewing the course of this 
[Palestine] campaign on 23rd April, 
the War Cabinet came to the 
conclusion that it was desirable to 
introduce more resolute leadership into 
the command of the Egyptian 
Expeditionary Force... In regard to the 
choice of a successor to Sir Archibald 
Murray, it was pointed out that 



General Smuts had expressed very 
decided views as to the strategical 
importance of Palestine to the future of 
the British Empire. He would therefore 
be likely to prosecute a campaign in 
that quarter with great determination, 
and there was a strong feeling that he 
would be one of the most suitable 
selections for the Chief Command of 
the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. 

On the other hand, the War Cabinet 
were aware that there was a growing 
opinion in favour of the retention of 
General Smuts in a central position in 
this country, with a view to the 
utilisation of his great qualities in the 
higher conduct of the war. 

General Smuts was a standing disproof 
of the theory tenaciously held by the 
British War Office (despite the classic 
example of Oliver Cromwell to the 
contrary) that no one was competent to 



hold high military command without 
long training in the regular army. 

The career of General Smuts furnishes 
a practical demonstration of the 
absurdity... In East Africa he had 
shown himself a brilliantiy efficient, 
resourceful and energetic Commander- 
in-Chief of our forces. Had he 
consented to take in hand the Palestine 
campaign, I have not the least doubt 
that it would, under his charge, have 
been one of our most successful 
efforts. 

My father thought the matter over 
carefully and what Sir William 
Robertson had to say confirmed his 
conclusions. It was probable, as the 
past had so richly proved, that 
Palestine would merely develop into 
one of the many forgotten fronts, with 
too few men to carry out decisive 
manoeuvres and that inevitable 



stagnation would set in. It might even 
develop into a defensive retreat. There 
were perhaps others who could handle 
such tactics better. He felt he could 
serve a more useful purpose here in 
Britain at the nerve centre, where he 
could watch this campaign and help 
wherever possible. 

To Lloyd George he wrote on 31st 
May, 1917: "The most careful 
consideration has merely strengthened 
my first impression that the Palestine 
campaign will be a mistake unless at 
least Jerusalem is made a reasonable 
certainty, and all the reinforcements 
necessary for that purpose are assured. 
A limited advance which stopped short 
of the capture of Jerusalem, would 
serve no particular purpose, and might 
easily be a disappointment to the 
public and appear as a fresh failure... 



The time for my father's return to 
South Africa was approaching. The 
Prime Minister had, however, decided 
that England could not, under any 
circumstances, afford to lose the 
services of this man. 

Lloyd George says: "I retained 
General Smuts here by making him a 
member of the War Cabinet - a step 
which secured general approval, 
though it called forth some indignant 
protests from members of my 
Ministry, who were horrified at the 
unprecedented step I was taking. Mr. 
Walter Long deemed it necessary to 
enter a protest as Colonial Secretary. 
In his opinion 'it was quite clear that 
Smuts could only join for Military 
questions. This appears to raise all 
sorts of difficulties. 

The professional soldiers were, 
however, to complain that in my father 



was merely a politician in the guise of 
a general and that he was therefore 
hardly competent to preside over 
matters at military strategy. Lloyd 
George quickly silenced them: "That 
General Smuts should be classed as 
'no soldier' is surely a consummate 
example of the working of the 
professional military mind. True, he 
had not devoted all his life to 
soldiering: neither had Sir Douglas 
Haig's Chief of the Staff, Sir Herbert 
Lawrence. Those who had campaigned 
against Smuts in the South African 
War could hardly deny his remarkable 
military quality. And in the Great War, 
after a brilliant campaign in German 
South-West Africa, he commanded 
during 1916 our forces in East Africa 
in the fight with von Lettow Vorbeck." 

My father took, his seat in the British 
War Cabinet in June. This was a select 



body of six men who were Britain's 
brains behind the war. In them was 
vested the supreme power. Lloyd 
George was chairman, and the other 
members were Curzon, Milner, 
Carson, Bonar Law and Barnes, with 
Maurice Hankey as Secretary. There 
was only provision for six members; 
my father was the seventh, a sort of 
minister without portfolio, but with 
powers equal to the others. In truth, it 
was impossible to legalise or define 
his position, because he was still 
Minister of Defence of South Africa 
and not a British Minister: Both he and 
Botha had decided that he could not 
accept a ministership in Britain in 
view of the political implications. So 
in the fine informality of the British 
system he was just a member of the 
War Cabinet, supreme military 
tribunal of Britain. He was also the 



only colonial sitting on that body. In 
this position he derived no pay and 
made it clear that he was to deal purely 
with military matters and not with 
internal politics. 

My father told Colonel Repington 
after his appointment: "I am going to 
advise on military matters and will 
steer clear of politics." Christopher 
Addison confirms that he "was at all 
times very scrupulous lest he should 
become involved in any differences of 
opinion or controversies that were of a 
strictly domestic character". Colonel 
House, Woodrow Wilson's special 
envoy, wrote on 13th November, 1917: 
"Nearly everyone I have met has asked 
me to be certain to meet Smuts. He has 
grown to be the lion of the hour... He 
is one of the few men I have met in the 
Government who does not feel tired. 
He's alert, energetic and forceful." 



Suggesting that Lloyd George would 
be wise to make my father a member 
of the Cabinet, Winston Churchill told 
Lord Riddell that he was "the only 
unwounded statesman of outstanding 
ability in the Empire", meaning, as 
Lord Riddell says, "the only one who 
is fresh and bright, unwounded 
mentally and physically". 

The majority of my father's colleagues 
did not really impress. Milner he grew 
to like and Lloyd George he admired 
tremendously. "Lloyd George is more 
than fascinating. He has genius. His 
mind is brilliant, energetic, 
resourceful, and courageous without 
limit. History will show him the 
biggest Englishman of them all." 

F.S. Oliver wrote in a letter to his 
brother: "I regard the taking in of 
Smuts to the War Cabinet as a most 
important step. So far as pure intellect 



goes he is the superior of any member 
at present on it; and by intellect I don't 
mean only the power of understanding 
what is written ... but a curious and 
more rare quality of seeing into the 
very heart of a subject, coupled with 
the further and still rarer quality, in 
combination with the foregoing, of 
being able to state clearly what he has 
seen. ..." 

Lloyd George in his War Memoirs 
gives this description of my father: 
"General Smuts, the gifted and 
versatile Dutchman, who could be 
safely trusted to examine into the 
intricacies of any of our multifarious 
problems and unravel and smooth 
them out... 

"General Smuts was one of the most 
remarkable personalities of his time - 
that fine combination of intellect and 
human sympathy which constitutes the 



understanding man... His rare gifts of 
mind and heart were strengthening 
elements in this hour of savage temper 
and pitiless carnage." 

Whatever my father's position in the 
War Cabinet, it worked. 



33 : The Commonwealth 

On 15th May, 1917, a banquet was 
held in the Royal Gallery of the House 
of Lords in honour of my father. This 
was a most unusual distinction and the 
first accorded a Dominion statesman. 
Lord French, of Boer War days, 
presided and the guests included the 
mighty of the land. Milner sat on my 
father's right. French paid tribute to 
my father's prowess as a soldier. My 
father told about Moordenaars Poort 
and the train with French he had let 
pass in 1901. 

The rest of the speech was devoted to 
a definition of the Commonwealth and 
its affairs, which stands today as 
clearly as it did thirty-five years ago. 

Speaking of the great convulsion that 
was shaking the world with its 
multiplicity of problems he said: 



It is inevitable where you have so 
many difficulties to face that one 
should forget to keep before oneself 
the situation as a whole; and yet this is 
very necessary. It is most essential that 
even in this struggle, even when 
Europe is looming so much before our 
eyes, we should keep before us and see 
steadily the problem of the whole 
situation. I would ask you not to forget 
in these times the British 
Commonwealth of Nations... 

It is apparently a very inopportune 
moment, but the calling together of the 
Conference has helped to turn 
attention once more to that aspect of 
the whole situation which is so 
important to us. It is not only Europe 
we have to consider, but the future of 
the great Commonwealth to which we 
all belong. This Commonwealth is 
peculiarly constituted. It is scattered 



over the whole world. It is not a 
compact territory, and it is dependent 
for its very existence on world-wide 
communications - communications 
which must be maintained or this 
Empire goes to pieces. 

In the years of peace behind us we see 
what has happened. Everywhere on 
your communications Germany has 
settled down; everywhere on your 
communications you will find a 
German colony or a German 
settlement, small or large; and the day 
might come when you would be in 
jeopardy through your lines of 
communication being cut. One of the 
by-products of the war has been that 
the whole world outside of Europe has 
been cleared of the enemy. Germany 
has been swept from all the seas and 
all the continents except Central 
Europe... You are now in this position: 



that once more you can consider the 
problem of your future as a whole. 

When peace comes to be made you 
have all these cards in your hand, and 
you can go carefully into the question 
of what is necessary for your future 
security and the future safety of the 
Empire, and can say what you are 
going to keep and what you are going 
to give away. I hope, that when the 
time comes - I am speaking for myself 
and expressing nobody's opinion but 
my own - when the time comes for 
peace to be made we shall bear in 
mind not only Central Europe, but the 
whole British Empire. As far as we are 
concerned, we do not wish this war to 
have been fought in vain. We have not 
fought for material gain or for 
territory, but we have fought for 
security in the future. If we attach any 
value to this group of nations which 



composes the British Empire, then in 
settling the terms of peace we shall 
have to look to its future security and 
safety... 

I think that we are inclined to make 
mistakes in thinking about this group 
of nations to which we belong, 
because too often we think about it as 
one State. We are not a State. The 
British Empire is much more than a 
State. I think the very expression 
"Empire" is misleading, because it 
makes people think we are one 
community, to which the word 
"Empire" can appropriately be 
applied. Germany is an Empire. Rome 
was an Empire. India is an Empire. 
But we are a system of nations. We are 
not a State, but a community of States 
and nations. We are far greater than 
any Empire which has ever existed, 
and by using this ancient expression 



we really disguise the main fact that 
our whole position is different, and 
that we are not one State or nation or 
empire, but a whole world by 
ourselves, consisting of many nations, 
of many States, and all sorts of 
communities under one flag. 

We are a system of States, and not a 
stationary system, but a dynamic 
evolving system, always going 
forward to new destinies. Take the 
position of that system today. Here 
you have the United Kingdom with a 
number of Crown Colonies. Besides 
that you have a large Protectorate like 
Egypt, an Empire by itself. Then you 
have a great Dependency like India, 
also an Empire by itself, where 
civilisation has existed from time 
immemorial, where we are trying to 
see how East and West can work 
together. 



These are enormous problems, but 
beyond them we come to the so-called 
Dominions, independent in their 
government, which have been evolved 
on the principles of your free 
constitutional system into almost 
independent States, which all belong 
to this community of nations, and 
which I prefer to call "the British 
Commonwealth of Nations". 

You can see that no political ideas 
which have been evolved in the past 
will apply to this world which is 
comprised in the British Empire; and 
any name we have yet found for this 
group is insufficient. The man who 
will find a proper name for this system 
will, I think, do real service to the 
Empire. 

The question is: How are you going to 
provide for the future government of 
this Commonwealth? An entirely new 



problem is presented. If you want to 
see how great it is, you must indulge 
in comparison. Look at the United 
States. There you find what is 
essentially one nation, not perhaps in 
the fullest sense, but what is more and 
more growing into one nation; one big 
State consisting, no doubt, of separate 
parts, but all linked up into one big 
continuous area. The United States had 
to solve the problem which this 
presented, and they discovered the 
federal solution - a solution which 
provides subordinate treatment for the 
subordinate parts, but one national 
Federal Government and Parliament 
for the whole. 

Compare with that State the enormous 
system which is comprised in the 
British Empire. You can see at once 
that a solution which has been found 
practicable in the case of the United 



States will never work in the case of a 
system such as we are comprising a 
world by itself. 

What I feel in regard to all the empires 
of the past, and even in regard to the 
United States, is that the effort has 
always been towards forming one 
nation. All the empires we have 
known in the past and that exist today 
are founded on the idea of assimi- 
lation, of trying to force human 
material into one mould. Your whole 
idea and basis is entirely different. 
You do not want to standardise the 
nations of the British Empire; you 
want to develop them towards greater, 
fuller nationality. These communities, 
the offspring of the Mother Country, 
or territories like my own, which have 
been annexed after the vicissitudes of 
war, must not be moulded on any one 
pattern. You want them to develop 



freely on the principles of self- 
government, and therefore your whole 
idea is different from anything that has 
ever existed before. That is the 
fundamental fact we have to bear in 
mind - that this British Com- 
monwealth of Nations does not stand 
for standardisation or denation- 
alisation, but for the fuller, richer, and 
more various life of all the nations 
comprised in it. 

Even the nations which have fought 
against it, like my own, must feel that 
their cultural interests, their language, 
their religion, are as safe and secure 
under the British flag as those of the 
children of your own household and 
your own blood. It is only in 
proportion as this is realised that you 
will fulfil the true mission which is 
yours. Therefore it seems to me that 
there is only one solution, and that is a 



solution supplied by our past traditions 
- the traditions of freedom, self- 
government, and of the fullest 
development for all constituent parts 
of the Empire. 

The question arises: How are you 
going to keep this Commonwealth of 
Nations together? If there is to be this 
full development towards a more 
varied and richer life among our 
nations, how are you going to keep 
them together? It seems to me that 
there are two potent factors that you 
must rely upon for the future. The first 
is your hereditary kingship, the other 
is our Conference svstem. I have seen 
some speculations recently in the 
newspapers about the position of the 
kingship in this country - speculations 
by people who, I am sure, have not 
thought of the wider issues that are at 



stake. You cannot make a republic of 
the British Commonwealth of Nations. 

In regard to the present system of 
Imperial Conferences, it will be 
necessary to devise better machinery 
for common consultation than we have 
at present. So far, we have relied on 
Imperial Conferences which meet once 
in every four years or thereabouts. 
However useful has been the work 
done at these Conferences, they have 
not, in my opinion, been a complete 
success. 

What is necessary is that there shall be 
called together the most important 
rulers of the Empire, say, once a year, 
to discuss matters which concern all 
parts of the Empire in common, in 
order that causes of friction and 
misunderstanding may be prevented or 
removed. We also need a meeting like 
that in order to lay a common policy in 



common matters concerning the 
Empire as a whole, and to determine 
the true orientation of our common 
Imperial policy. There is, for instance, 
foreign policy on which the fate of the 
Empire might from time to time 
depend. Some such method of 
procedure must lead to very important 
results and very, great changes. 

You cannot settle a common foreign 
policy for the whole of the British 
Empire without changing that policy 
very much from what it has been in the 
past, because the policy will have to 
be, for one thing, far simpler. In the 
other parts of the Empire we do not 
understand diplomatic finesse. If our 
foreign policy is going to rest not only 
on the basis of our Cabinet here, but, 
finally, on the whole of the British 
Empire, it will have to be a simpler 
policy, a far more intelligible policy, 



and a policy which will in the end lead 
to less friction and greater safety. 

Far too much stress has been laid in 
the past on instruments of government. 
People are inclined to forget that the 
world is growing more democratic, 
and that public opinion and the forces 
finding expression in public opinion 
are going to be far more powerful than 
they have been in the past. Where you 
build up a common patriotism and a 
common ideal, the instrument of 
government will not be a thing that 
matters so much as the spirit which 
actuates the whole. 



34 : African Problems 

In the Savoy Hotel on 22nd May, 
1917, under the chairmanship of Lord 
Selborne, my father delivered a 
memorable address on African 
problems: 

When I look around tonight and see all 
who are sitting here at this table, I feel, 
and you all feel, that we are lifted out 
of the world of commonplace into a 
strange world. We feel that whatever 
the past has been, whatever mistakes 
we have made - and we have all made 
mistakes - whatever services we have 
been able to render to our South 
Africa, a kind Providence has 
intervened and has woven all those 
mistakes and all those services into a 
strange and wonderful texture which 
we call the history of South Africa and 
of which we are very proud. When we 
look at that wonderful history we are 



all cheered and encouraged to move 
forward in the hope that as our task 
has not been too difficult for us in the 
past it may not prove entirely beyond 
us in the future. 

But in South Africa we always feel 
that there is something more. With us 
it is never a question of merely 
material progress and of prosperity, 
although we are always very eager to 
have those good things too; we always 
feel that under our peculiar historical 
and racial conditions there are very 
large problems in the background 
which always press for solution. And 
that is what gives profound interest to 
life in South Africa. We have made 
very great progress in recent years. If 
you remember that it was within seven 
years of the Boer War that we had all 
the British Colonies of South Africa in 
one great Union you will see how 



great and rapid that progress has been. 
But although we have achieved 
political union, our aim has always 
been far greater; we have aimed not 
only at political union, but also at 
national unity; and when you have to 
deal with very hard-headed races, such 
as our people in South Africa, both 
English and Dutch, you can well 
understand that it takes more than 
seven years to bring about that con- 
summation. We have grave difficulties 
in this respect. We have different 
racial strains, different political 
tendencies. 

We have people in South Africa who 
prefer isolation, who prefer, to stand 
aside from the great currents that are 
carrying South Africa to her new and 
greater destiny. These are not merely 
Dutch; many of them are English. We 
have English fellow-citizens who will 



always remain English, to whom even 
the sunshine and the wide spaces of 
South Africa are not sufficient to bring 
about the great transformation of soul. 
We look forward patiently in such 
cases to the next generation. We have 
also a large section of my own people, 
the Dutch people in South Africa, who 
think that the best policy is for them to 
stand aside and to remain in isolation. 
They think that in that way they will 
be better able to preserve their 
language, their traditions, and their 
national type, and that they will in that 
way not be swallowed up and be 
submerged by the new currents. They 
point to the precedent in Canada, 
where French-Canadians are also 
standing aside from the general current 
of Canadian life and national 
development for the same reasons. 



The policy General Botha and his 
associates have stood for is that we 
must have national unity in South 
Africa as the one true basis of future 
stability and strength - and that 
national unity is entirely consistent 
with the preservation of our language, 
our traditions, our cultural interests, 
and all that is dear to us in our past. 
The view we have taken is this, that 
the different elements in our white 
populations ought really to be used to 
build up a stronger and more powerful 
nation than would have been possible 
if we had consisted of purely one 
particular strain. All great Imperial 
peoples really are a mixture of various 
stocks. Your own history is one of the 
completest proofs of that doctrine, and 
it is only in recent years that this 
remarkable doctrine of the pure race 
has come into vogue, and largely in 



Germany. The man who preached the 
doctrine most eloquently is a 
Germanised Englishman, Houston 
Chamberlain. The doctrine is to the 
effect that the governing races of the 
world are pure races, and that they 
simply debase themselves and become 
degenerate if mixed with alien blood. 
They must remain pure, and in so far 
as they do so they will play a great 
part in the world. It is more than 
hinted at that the German race must 
guide the world because it is one of 
these pure races. What arrant 
nonsense! 

We do not pretend in South Africa to 
listen to these siren voices. We want to 
create a blend out of the various 
nationalities and to create a new South 
African nation out of our allied racial 
stock, and if we succeed in doing that 
we shall achieve a new nationality 



embracing and harmonising our 
various traits and blending them all 
into a richer national type than could 
otherwise have been achieved. The 
ideal of national unity means a 
continuous effort towards better 
relations, towards mutual respect and 
forbearance, towards co-operation, and 
that breadth of view and character 
which will be the most potent 
instrument for dealing with our other 
problems. Although in South Africa 
our national progress is marked by the 
ox-waggon and not by the train or 
aeroplane, I am sure in the end we 
shall achieve success and a new 
nationhood. 

And this is all the more important 
because in South Africa we are not 
merely a white man's country. Our 
problem of white racial unity is being 
solved in the midst of the black 



environment in South Africa. Whether 
we shall succeed in solving that other 
larger question of the black man's 
future depends on many factors on 
which no one could feel very much 
assurance at present. We know that on 
the African Continent at various times 
there have been attempts at civilisa- 
tion. We read of a great Saracen 
civilisation in Central Africa, and of 
the University of Timbuctoo, to which 
students came from other parts of the 
world. Rhodesia also shows signs of 
former civilisation. 

Where are those civilisations now? 
They have all disappeared and 
barbarism once more rules over the 
land and makes the thoughtful man 
nervous about the white man's future 
in Southern Africa. There are many 
people in South Africa - and not very 
foolish people either - who do not feel 



certain that our white experiment will 
be a permanent success, or that we 
shall ever succeed in making a white 
man's land of Southern Africa; but, at 
any rate, we mean to press on with the 
experiment. It has now been in 
progress for some two hundred and 
fifty years, as you know, and perhaps 
the way we have set about it may be 
the right way. Former civilisations in 
Africa have existed mostly for the 
purpose of exploiting the native 
populations, and in that way, and 
probably also through inter-mixture of 
blood, carried in them the seeds of 
decay. 

We have started by creating a new 
white base in South Africa and today 
we are in a position to move forward 
towards the North and the civilisation 
of the African Continent: Our problem 
is a very difficult one, however; quite 



unique in its way. In the United States 
there is a similar problem of black and 
white with the negro population. But 
there you have had an overwhelming 
white population with a smaller negro 
element in the midst of it. In South 
Africa the situation is reversed. There 
you have an overwhelming black 
population with a small white 
population which has got a footing 
there and which has been trying to 
make that footing secure for more than 
two centuries. 

... With us there are certain axioms 
now in regard to the relations of white 
and black; and the principal one is "no 
intermixture of blood between the two 
colours". It is probably true that earlier 
civilisations have largely failed 
because that principle was never 
recognised, civilising races being 
rapidly submerged in the quicksands 



of the African blood. It has now 
become an accepted axiom in our 
dealings with the natives that it is 
dishonourable to mix white and black 
blood. 

We have setded another axiom, and 
that is that in all our dealings with the 
natives we must build our practice on 
what I believe Lord Cromer has called 
the granite bedrock of the Christian 
moral code. Honesty, fair-play, justice, 
and the ordinary Christian virtues must 
be the basis of all our relations with 
the natives. We don't always practise 
them. We don't always practise that 
exalted doctrine, but the vast bulk of 
the white population in South Africa 
believe sincerely in that doctrine as 
correct and true; they are convinced 
that they must stick to the fundamental 
Christian morality if they want to do 
their duty to the natives and make a 



success of their great country. Of 
course, this doctrine applies to other 
countries besides South Africa. 

We were not aware of the great 
military value of the natives until this 
war. This war has been an eye-opener 
in many new directions. It will be a 
serious question for the statesman of 
the Empire and Europe whether they 
are going to allow a state of affairs like 
that to be possible, and to become a 
menace not only to Africa, but perhaps 
to Europe itself. I hope that one of the 
results of this war will be some 
arrangement or convention among the 
nations interested in Central Africa by 
which the military training of natives 
in that area will be prevented, as we 
have prevented it in South Africa. It 
can well be foreseen that armies may 
yet be trained there, which under 



proper leading night prove a danger to 
civilisation itself... 

You will have further questions in 
regard to the territorial settlement of 
Central Africa which will follow the 
war. We are now, after the conquest of 
the German Colonies, in the happy 
position of having a through land route 
from Egypt to the Cape. We are in the 
secure position of having no danger on 
the Atlantic seaboard or on the Indian 
seaboard to our very essential sea 
communications as an Empire. What 
will happen to these communications 
after the settlement will depend on that 
settlement itself, but I hope it will be 
borne in mind that East Africa gives us 
not only this through land 
communication from one end of the 
Continent to the other, but that East 
Africa also ensures to us the safety of 
the sea route round the Cape and the 



sea route through the Red Sea to the 
East. It is a matter of gratification to us 
South Africans here tonight that South 
African troops have taken such a large 
and leading share in securing these 
extremely valuable results... 

We shall always have a difficult 
question not only in Central but in 
Southern Africa. Unlike other British 
Dominions, our future as a white 
civilisation is not assured for the 
reasons which I have given. 

Many thoughtful people are in doubt 
about our future, and in any case no 
cheap and easy victory will be scored 
in South Africa. 

We know we have tremendous 
problems to contend with. We know 
we have tremendous tasks before us, 
and in dealing with these problems 
and in trying to fulfil these tasks one 



generation of South Africans after 
another will brace its nerves and 
strengthen its intellect and broaden its 
mind and character. Although these 
difficulties may seem to us, and indeed 
are, grave perils to our future, I trust 
that in the long run these difficulties 
may prove a blessing in disguise and 
may prove to have afforded the 
training school for a large-minded, 
broadminded, magnanimous race, 
capable not only of welding together 
different racial elements into a new 
and richer national type, but capable of 
dealing as no other race in history has 
ever dealt with the question of the 
relations between black and white... 



35 : The Western Front 

One of the few bright spots in the dark 
array that faced the Allies in 1917 was 
the internal weakness of Austria. War 
weariness, food shortages, labour 
troubles and dissension on military 
matters had made her a progressively 
more uncertain partner among the 
Central Powers. Both the Emperor 
Karl and his Bourbon wife were using 
their influence in the cause of peace 
and it looked as though Austria was 
almost ripe for a break-away. 

A preparatory contact had been 
arranged between Count von 
Mensdorff and a British Envoy in 
Copenhagen, but under fear of a 
suspected leakage the meeting never 
took place. 

In December, in the face of violent 
opposition from the Foreign Office, 



Lloyd George decided to hold further 
talks with Mensdorff and my father 
was chosen as the British delegate. He 
did not view the prospects of 
detaching Austria highly, certainly not 
unless Italy waived her claims to 
Austrian territory. But he felt that the 
talks might serve a useful purpose. 
Accordingly they met in Geneva, my 
father travelling under the name of Mr. 
Ashwarth Von We den, the German 
Ambassador, says Mensdorff 's 
instructions from the Czernin were to 
find out if peace was possible for both 
Austria and Germany. My father 
insisted that he had only come to study 
the problem of Austria. 

Colonel Repington says Briand's 
version of the talks was that my father 
put a number of questions to Mens- 
dorff to which iie wanted definite 
"yes" or "no" answers. My father's 



version was: 15 "I spent two days with 
Mensdorff. The mission was after- 
wards held to be a failure. But the 
mission was neither a failure nor not a 
failure. The abject was not to make 
peace, but to find out if there was an 
opportunity to make peace. Von 
Mensdorff and I went over the same 
old ground, and the longer I stayed the 
clearer I became that von Mensdorff 
might want to know if I had anything 
to say to him. But he had nothing to 
say to me. He never made those 
proposals he had spoken of in his 
messages. He was not in a position to 
negotiate at all. Austria was absolutely 
held by Germany. 

"So I came back and reported to the 
Prime Minister. I was satisfied no 
loophole existed for a peace with 



15 Quoted from Mrs. Sarah Gertrude Millin. 



Austria. That was what we wanted to 
know. That was what I had gone to 
find out... There the whole business 
ended... 

There was afterwards severe criticism 
of the Government especially by the 
Socialists, at having sent a simple 
Boer like my father, unversed in the 
ways of diplomacy, to cross swords 
with a trained diplomat like 
Mensdorff. 

That my father was much depressed 
during these wearying days of the war 
are revealed in a letter dated 6th 
August, 1917, to Professor Wolsten- 
holme, an old Cambridge friend. Yet 
his faith in the future remained 
unshaken: "I have faith in the ultimate 
Good of the Universe," he wrote, "in 
the undercurrents whose drift is in the 
direction of progress and the slow 



gradual perfecting of the soul and 
mechanism of Good. 

"But for that Faith I would be of all 
men most miserable, especially in 
these sad times, when the human race 
suffers in a more acute and 
concentrated form than at any previous 
time." 

By the autumn of 1917 the Allies were 
weary of the war, France even more so 
than Britain. America had only just 
entered. After the Nivelle setback the 
French were despondent and nearly 
broken. They seemed to be losing 
countless men without achieving any- 
thing. For three years they had borne 
the heat and burden of the fighting. 
There had been no more dogged and 
courageous troops than these 
Frenchmen. Up to now France had lost 
nearly two million men. Nivelle was 
the last straw and there had been 



mutiny and insubordination. The 
French had grown tired of dying: tired 
in fact of the whole war. 

The French sectors had grown static 
and their leaders were set on a costly 
policy of war by attrition. At a stretch, 
the mood might turn into outright 
defeat, or peace at almost any price. 

Britain was now shouldering the main 
burden of the fighting. She had 
reached the peak of her military 
potential. 

But at sea the submarines were sinking 
too much shipping and Admiral 
Jellicoe had warned that these losses 
could not be faced indefinitely. 
Something had to be done to the 
German bases at Zeebrugge and 
Ostend on the Belgian coast if 
shipping was to survive during the 
coming year. 



Haig and Robertson, too, on the Army 
side, decided that something drastic 
was to be done on the Western Front if 
France was to be saved from imminent 
collapse. 

To this purpose, Haig, Jellicoe and 
Robertson put before the War Cabinet 
plans for an operation to punch a hole 
through the front and to sweep around 
and clear the coast of Belgium. The 
War Cabinet were not impressed by 
this scheme, but they felt the urgency 
of immediate action. They had already 
had sufficient experience of this 
deeply-defended type of trench 
warfare to realise that big or quick 
advances were impossible. My father 
had gone over the plans carefully with 
Haig and Robertson and had decided 
that it was worth an attempt. He put 
his case to the Cabinet. Lloyd George 
was cautious; Milner and Bonar Law 



were sceptical. But at last he 
convinced them, all agreeing that it 
was worth a trial. Haig undertook it 
under these conditions. Lloyd George, 
possibly influenced by Wilson, insists 
that Haig and Robertson misled them 
purposely on many points and 
withheld much unfavourable 

information in the knowledge of which 
the Cabinet would never have 
sanctioned the plan. 

What also facilitated its acceptance 
was the fact that just at this time Italy 
had suffered a disastrous defeat at 
Caporetto, and she, too, had now to be 
impressed by Allied strength if she 
was not to drop out of the fight. After 
the news of the disaster of the Italian 
armies at Caporetto, Lloyd George 
invited my father to accompany him to 
Rome for discussions on future policy. 



"The Rome Conference saved Italy," 
says Lloyd George. 

One thing is certain, that had the War 
Cabinet or my father known the true 
position of weakness in the French 
army after Nivelle, they would not 
have risked the Haig plan. The battles 
came to be known as the 
Passchendaele Offensive. As a single 
military manoeuvre it was a disaster. 
But it had broader aspects. Lloyd 
George spoke scathingly of it. I 
remember my father doing likewise. 
They were not criticising the decision 
to start the offensive, but Haig's 
failure to call it off once he saw that 
none of his objectives were being 
attained. 

Lloyd George said: "Passchendaele 
was indeed one of the greatest 
disasters of the War, and I never think 
of it without feeling grateful for the 



combination of seamanship and luck 
which enabled us to survive and repair 
its unutterable folly." "... with the 
Somme and Verdun it will always 
rank as one of the most gigantic, 
tenacious, grim, futile and bloody 
fights ever waged in the history of 
war. Each of the battles lasted for 
months. None of them attained the 
object for which they were fought." 

The offensive corresponded with the 
onset of the rains. The mightiest 
artillery preparation of the war was 
laid down on the German positions. 
Over twenty-five million shells were 
fired during the first forty days. The 
result was not to dislodge the 
Germans, but to turn the front into the 
most churned-up area of mud of the 
whole war. A competent observer 
describes it thus: "After our 
preliminary bombardment ... the whole 



surface of the ground consisted of 
nothing but a series of over-lapping 
shell craters, half-full of yellow, slimy 
water. Through falling into these 
ponds hundreds upon hundreds of 
unwounded men, while advancing to 
the attack, lost their lives by drown- 
ing..." Unemotional General Gough 
sums up the position thus: "Many pens 
have tried to describe the ghastly 
expanse of mud which covered the 
water-logged country, but few men 
have been able to paint a picture 
sufficiently intense." This is what 
Brigadier-General Baker-Carr said 
about the front which was chosen for 
the offensive: "To anyone familiar 
with the terrain in Flanders it was 
almost inconceivable that this part of 
the line should have been selected. If a 
careful search had been made from the 
English Channel to Switzerland, no 



more unsuitable spot could have been 
discovered... 

The battle raged from July to 
November, not even the first objective, 
simple by comparison to the rest, was 
captured. Britain lost 400,000 men, 
Germany only 270,000, a ratio of 5 to 
3. Lloyd George says that short of 
dismissing Haig and Robertson he 
could not have called off the offensive. 
This step for various reasons he could 
not take. Nothing would prevail on 
Haig himself to discontinue it. My 
father never forgave Haig his pig- 
headed obstinacy. He described him as 
an "unimaginative man" and was 
critical of the tactical handling. His 
dogged courage, too great under the 
circumstances, no one questioned. 

On 3rd November the Canadians took 
Passchendaele ridge and village. Less 
than half a dozen miles had been 



gained in the entire autumn offensive. 
Was it worth the cost of 400,000 
lives? 

In 1932 my father answered this 
question for Mrs. Millin : 

I don't think, however - I never did - 
that the naval objective in itself 
justified a campaign on the Flanders 
scale... 

There was a second objective: 
Following the appointment of Nivelle 
in the place of Joffre, and his initial 
success, the French had been com- 
pletely smashed in the Compiegne and 
Nivelle thrown out. American 
reinforcements had not appeared in 
sufficient numbers to stiffen them. 
There was serious mutiny under 
Petain. Paris itself was in danger. Sir 
Henry Wilson had warned us months 
ago that the French could do no more. 



He had turned out to be right. They 
could not. They had failed us in the 
summer campaign - had not carried 
out their undertakings concerning our 
offensive, had postponed promised 
attacks on which we relied. It was not 
their fault. They were the most gallant 
of people. Their endurance, as a 
people, living as they were, in the 
midst of war, had been heroic in the 
extreme. The circumstances were 
beyond them. 

The Germans, on the other hand, were 
strengthened by forces released from 
the Russian campaign. Near as they 
came to winning the war in the spring 
of 1918, in the autumn of 1917, with 
the French so weak, and the 
Americans so slow, they had an ever 
better chance. There was, in short, a 
more urgent reason than the naval 
demand for the Flanders offensive: 



nothing less than saving the war. It 
seemed likely that if we did not 
succeed in drawing the Germans away 
from the French, not only would 
Petain fail to hold his line, but Paris 
might be taken and the war lost, before 
the weight of the American army 
could be felt. There were only the 
British to prevent it. I think that by 
pinning the Germans down in 
Flanders, they did prevent it. I still 
think my instinct and reasoning in the 
awful choice were right. 

As it happened the Channel ports were 
not freed by the offensive, and we lost 
four hundred thousand men. What 
there is to put against this terrible cost 
is that it probably saved the war. 

I have stressed Passchendaele because 
I have wanted to show, how even 
against their gravest doubts and 
misgivings about the success of the 



venture, my father was able to 
persuade the sanest and most august 
tribunal in Britain to give it a trial. I 
have also shown how cool and 
resolute he could be provided he felt 
the end justified the means. Not many 
men would have been able to write 
with a steady hand "Losses at 100,000 
per month - less than half a million 
whom we can make good." Yet he said 
to a fellow climber on Sneeuberg in 
the Cape, who wanted to pick a rare 
flower for him, "Worship - and pass 
on!" 

At various times much harm was done 
to the war effort by strikes. It was 
perhaps a reaction to the long tiring 
years of the conflict and the austerity 
of a nation living precariously in the 
shadow of the submarine. My father 
had had experience of strikes in the 
Transvaal. There he had dealt with 



them with firmness and resolution. He 
settled a police strike in London 
without difficulty. The strike by fifty 
thousand munition workers at 
Coventry was more serious. But aided 
by the Labour Leader George Barnes, 
it was soon over and he was back in 
London. His colleagues never failed to 
marvel at his success. In truth it was 
due to his life-long companions: good 
nature and friendliness. 

In the coal mines of Wales there was 
more serious trouble. It was brought 
on largely by trouble-mongers and 
pacifist agitators. Times were critical. 
There was no more vital commodity. 
"A paralysing blow was being struck 
at us," said my father, "at the very 
time when we were being told by our 
navy that they only had reserves of 
coal for a week, and if the strike went 



on for another week, we should be 
paralysed and finished." 

Here was work for a Boer rather than a 
Briton, thought Lloyd George and his 
Cabinet. As my father was leaving 
hurriedly for Wales, Lloyd George 
gave him a tip: "Remember my fellow 
countrymen are great singers." 

At Cardiff the University honoured 
him with a doctorate. In the afternoon 
he moved into the coalfields. There 
were strikers everywhere, and 
frequently he stopped his car to 
address them, much as though on a 
political tour in South Africa. In the 
evening he arrived at Tonypandy. Here 
tens of thousands of miners had 
gathered, probably out of curiosity; he 
was a great attraction as the first 
statesman they were to see from 
Africa. 



Gentlemen, I come from far away, as 
you know [he said soothingly]. I do 
not belong to this country. I have 
come a very long way to do my bit in 
this war, and I am going to talk to you 
tonight about this trouble. But I have 
heard in my country that the Welsh are 
among the greatest singers in the 
world, and before I start, I want you 
first of all to sing me some of the 
songs of your people. 

There was a brief silence, and then a 
man in the crowd started singing 
"Land of my Fathers". The rest joined 
with characteristic fervour, and sang 
through all the stirring lines. The 
effect was amazing. Deeply moved, a 
great silence came over the crowd. 
Then my father spoke: 

Gentlemen, it is not necessary for me 
to say much here tonight. You know 
what has happened on the Western 



Front. You know your comrades in 
their tens of thousands are risking their 
lives. You know that the front is just 
as much here as anywhere else. The 
trenches are in Tonypandy, and I am 
sure you are moved by the same spirit 
as your comrades in France. It is not 
necessary for me to add anything. You 
know it as well as I do, and I am sure 
you are going to defend the Land of 
your Fathers, of which we have sung 
here tonight, and that no trouble you 
may have with the Government about 
pay or anything else will ever stand in 
the way of your defence of the Land of 
your Fathers. 

He addressed other meetings in similar 
fashion that night. There was singing 
and emphasis on this Land of their 
Fathers. Their sullen mood left them. 
My father felt happy and confident. 



Back at a Cabinet meeting in London 
the following afternoon his colleagues 
said to him in admiration: "What 
happened? All the men are at work. 
How did you settle it?" "Well," replied 
my father, "it is news to me that the 
men are at work." Long afterwards he 
said, "The Land of my Fathers' saved 
us." 



36 : Work On Committees 

Failing a successful campaign on the 
Western Front, my father advocated a 
campaign in Turkey. He did not like 
Lloyd George's idea of attacking 
Austria through Italy, for there was 
little chance of detaching Austria 
while Italy laid strenuous claims to 
portions of Austrian territory, no 
matter how tempting it would be to 
secure a release for the Allied troops 
locked up in Mesopotamia, Egypt and 
Salonika. Turkey was attractive 
because with her elimination it would 
be possible to use the Dardanelless, to 
push back Russia and coerce Bulgaria 
out of the war. 

Full use of my father's versatility was 
made during his stay in England. 
There was no end to the missions and 
jobs he was given. Apart from 
examining and reporting on questions 



of strategy and visiting the fronts, he 
was engaged also on social, political 
and economic activities. Here he was 
to meet the scientist Dr. Chaim 
Weizmann, now President of Israel, 
inventor of a new process for making 
the explosive TNT, with whom he 
established a lifelong friendship. 

Weizmann was a professor of 
chemistry at the University of 
Manchester. The Allies were short of 
this vital explosive. Weizmann 
devised a new and simplified 
manufacturing process. For this 
inestimable service Lloyd George 
wished to reward him, but Weizmann 
asked nothing personally but for a 
home for Jewry in Palestine. Great 
Britain undertook solemnly to 
establish such a home. My father says 
the undertaking was given to "rally 
Jewish sympathy for the Allied cause 



in the darkest hour of the war". By the 
Balfour Declaration, upon which he 
and Lord Balfour had worked for a 
long time, the Jews got their home. 

Here also he was to work with the 
economists J.M. Keynes, Henry 
Strakosch and Thomas Lamont. 

He did so much in such diverse lines 
that he came to be known as the 
"Handyman of the Empire". He was 
appointed to serve on many 
committees. He became a member of 
the Middle East Committee, whose 
purpose it was to help Allenby's 
campaign against the Turks. 

Lloyd George asked him if he was 
"ready to take on the Russian 
enterprise", but my father did not like 
the idea, for he "doubted whether 
anything could still be done with that 
country". 



In 1917 he worked out the Alexan- 
dretta campaign against the Turks and 
a year later he planned the advance 
northwards, through Palestine. 

In February, 1918, he visited the 
Middle East, and after holding 
consultations there with our leaders 
reported on the 15th in favour of a 
more defensive disposition by the 
Mesopotamia forces, and concen- 
trating rather on a thrust by Allenby up 
towards Aleppo. The Cabinet agreed 
to this, but it was delayed by the 
dangerous German break-through on 
the Western Front. 

He was a member of the Northern 
Neutral Committee, under Curzon, 
which watched North-Western Europe, 
and later he became a member of a 
secret committee to keep an eye on the 
Netherlands whose neutrality was 



liable to violation by Germany at any 
moment. 

But perhaps his greatest work was as 
chairman of the War Priorities 
Committee. When he got to England 
my father was forcibly struck by the 
confusion and lack of co-ordination on 
questions of production and supply 
between the various departments in the 
war. There was rivalry to get weapons, 
over-lapping and inefficiency. To 
introduce order into this scramble, he 
conceived the idea of a War Priorities 
Committee. On it, under my father, 
were the First Lord of the Admiralty, 
the Secretary of, State for War, the 
Minister of Munitions, the Secretary 
for Air, and the Minister of National 
Service. My father, as a member of the 
War Cabinet, presided. The 
arrangement worked with efficiency 
and expedition. Mr. Churchill was the 



Minister of Munitions. It was the start 
of a long and great friendship. 

To maintain the peace amidst these 
warring factions was not easy. "Never, 
I suspect," wrote Mr. Churchill, "in all 
the vicissitudes of his career has 
General Smuts stood more in need of 
... tact and adroitness." 

My father's next great work was in 
connection with the Air Force. At the 
start of hostilities, flying was in its 
infancy and the machines and their 
armaments were crude and 
elementary, with little bearing on the 
course of military warfare. But this 
new fledgling made rapid strides, and 
with the increase of speed and 
performance came refinements of 
offensive armament. Machineguns 
took the place of pistols, and aerial 
bombs were carried. The aeroplane 
became a formidable weapon. The 



conservative army and naval chiefs 
had not, however, perceived the 
significant development and were not 
prepared to recognise its importance. 
They brushed aside its urgent requests 
for assistance in men and equipment. 

Milner had noticed this great change 
stealing over the situation. "Say what 
you like," he wrote to my father, "the 
soldiers and sailors at the War Office 
and Admiralty do not yet grasp the 
fact that there is a new kind of warfare 
before us and that, besides the help 
they have to give the army and navy, 
the airmen will have to fight battles of 
their own. 

"If you were Air Minister with an Air 
Council of your own selection under 
you, I should feel easy - in my mind 
on this point. But I recognise the 
difficulty of this and I see that it may 
be an even better arrangement to have 



you in the Cabinet with a special 
obligation to keep, as Minister, the 
supervision of Air Departments." 

When my father first became 
interested in the flying services the 
army and navy each had their own 
separate and exclusive air Components 
and competed with one another for 
personnel and materials. Lord Derby, 
and later Curzon, had failed to make 
the peace between these ardent rivals. 
Fundamental differences made 
collaboration difficult. 

With air attacks on Britain the 
Ministry of Munitions was quick to 
supply aircraft in such numbers that 
the air force soon justified its 
independent existence. It looked as 
though unification at this stage would 
be of great benefit. 



In July the Germans had grown 
sufficiently bold to attack London not 
only at night with their Zeppelins but 
even to send over squadrons of 
bomber aircraft in daylight hours. 
There were casualties. People grew 
restive. Something must be done. 
Parliament in a secret session endorsed 
this. Lloyd George and my father were 
to tackle the problem, but Lloyd 
George backed out and left the matter 
in the hands of my father, who held 
consultations with representatives of 
the Home Forces, the Admiralty and 
the General Staff 

My father had previously pointed out 
that the enemy was superior in the air. 
We must devise an air weapon not 
only to serve in a defensive role to 
check these raids, but also an offensive 
one that could carry the fight into the 
industrial and munition centres of 



Germany. He had been alarmed at the 
backwardness of matters relating to 
the air weapon. 

Now that women and children were 
being killed in raids on London, the 
people were clamouring for bombing 
reprisals against Germany. My father's 
conclusion was that "we can only 
defend this island effectively against 
air attack by offensive measures, by 
attacking the enemy in his air bases on 
the Continent and in that way 
destroying his power of attacking us 
across the Channel". He ended up by 
not only dealing with the defences of 
London, but also with the unification 
of the air services. This he did so 
subtly that even Jellicoe and Winston 
Churchill were placated. 

Upon the acceptance of his suggestion 
that a committee should go into the 
question of establishing an Air 



Ministry, he himself was appointed 
chairman to that committee. This 
body, between August and October, 
drafted a Bill for a new Air Ministry 
which was passed by Parliament a 
month later without opposition. The 
First Air Minister was Lord Rother- 
mere. And so by his unification of the 
various branches of the air services, 
my father justly came to be known as 
the Father of the Royal Air Force. 

The air raids were gradually mastered 
and switched to Paris. My father's 
work had borne fruit. 

At Biggin Hill, near London, a young 
air ace Pierre van Ryneveld was 
stationed who had made a name for 
himself. He was later to become my 
father's Chief of Staff in the Second 
World War. In 1920, in the Silver 
Queen, with Quentin Brand, he made 



the first flight from England to the 
Union. 

In London my father occupied a 
luxurious suite of rooms in the Savoy 
Hotel, overlooking the Thames. While 
he enjoyed the comfort of his 
surroundings, he was a man of simple 
tastes and would have been equally at 
home with less ostentation. But he had 
little time to consider his own likes 
and dislikes, for he was constantly 
working. The same zeal and energy he 
had displayed at the National 
Convention he now exercised again, 
though here it was of necessity much 
more prolonged. "I had no time for 
anything but work," he used to 
remark. "There was no end to the work 
they wanted me to do. I have never 
worked so hard in my life. My hair 
became white." There was little time 
for relaxation. Whenever possible he 



would escape into the country or to the 
Gilletts at Oxford, where he would go 
for long walks and enjoy a few brief 
moments of simple life. In London his 
alert figure could often be seen 
striding briskly, as was his wont, 
through the many lovely parks. In 
winter the sombre skies depressed him 
and he longed for the warm cheer of 
Irene. My mother sent him biltong to 
recall days spent on the sunny veld. 

Towards the end of March, 1918, the 
German army was crashing forward in 
spectacular fashion. Already they were 
closing on Amiens. The road to Paris 
seemed wide open. Only a miracle 
could save the British lines, declared 
my father, after a tour of inspection. In 
March and April there were dangerous 
breaches in the line and penetrations of 
up to forty miles. Americans and 
young lads were hurled in to plug the 



gaps. At that critical hour Foch was 
given supreme command of all the 
Allied Armies. 

America's slowness in entering the 
war was most disconcerting to Britain 
and France. Her preparations began a 
year before she entered the war and 
much enthusiasm had been displayed 
in New York. By the spring of 1918 
they had promised seventeen 
divisions, each of a size almost twice 
that of their British counterparts. 
During the critical days of this March 
offensive there was actually only a 
single American division in the line, 
with three others preparing to move 
up. The thousand aeroplanes promised 
per month transpired to be a mere 
handful, and Americans themselves 
were using what they had previously 
described as "unsuitable" British and 
French guns. 



Woodrow Wilson had entertained 
hopes that the American entrance into 
the war might persuade the Germans 
to request an armistice. He had made 
plain his peace manifesto of Fourteen 
Points. 

By June the position had improved 
and Americans were pouring into the 
front at thirty thousand per month, and 
proving themselves worthy soldiers. 

On July 15 the Germans launched an 
all-out attack on this unified line, but it 
stood firm. The enemy army had spent 
itself. On August 8 it was clear even to 
the Kaiser that Germany could not 
hope to win the war. This day, 
Ludendorff said, "was the blackest day 
of the German Army in the history of 
the war". 

The collapse of the Central Powers 
was sudden. The German army wanted 



to continue the fight, but their navy 
had mutinied, and Austria, Turkey and 
Bulgaria had surrendered. Hungary 
and parts of Germany were in a state 
of revolution, and the Kaiser and 
Crown Prince fled in panic to Holland. 
The Germans invoked the aid of 
President Wilson in restoring peace. 

On the terms of the Fourteen Points, 
an armistice was signed in Foch's 
carriage in the Forest of Compiegne, at 
5 a.m. on November 11. 

The war was over. 



37 : Ideas On Peace 

After the Armistice the pent-up 
floods of emotion burst. There was 
great revulsion of feeling against 
Germany. "Hang the Kaiser", Lloyd 
George's election cry, echoed 
throughout the country. The Allies had 
won the war. My father was 
determined to see that they won the 
peace as well. His standpoint, unlike 
that of Lloyd George, Clemenceau, 
Orlando and others, was entirely 
objective. He remained calm, detached 
and supremely rational. He was 
shocked and dismayed by the hysteria 
of his colleagues, but powerless to 
intervene. 

In the middle of May, 1918, my father 
made a speech at Glasgow in which he 
said: 



I am persuaded this war will end in 
decisive results one way or the other 
and not merely in stalemate. But when 
you talk about victory - victory is a 
vague term - you must know what you 
mean. There are people who mean by 
an Allied victory that we must smash 
Germany, that we must march to 
Berlin, occupy the capital of the 
enemy and dictate terms there... I 
don't think an out-and-out victory is 
possible for any group of nations in 
this war because it will mean an 
interminable campaign. It will mean 
that decimated nations will be called 
upon to wage war for many years to 
come and what would the results be? 
... The results may be that the 
civilisation we are out to save may be 
jeopardised itself... 



But at least victory was our goal [he 
explained years after]. 16 Only what 
sort of victory? Lloyd George wanted 
a knock-out blow. I felt that if a decent 
peace could be achieved - something 
short, as I said, of marching to Berlin, 
not something short of retreating to 
Paris - it would be wrong to sacrifice 
the human lives and the world's future 
chances for a knock-out blow. Some 
of our best soldiers were convinced 
that if we fought on to 1919 such 
exhaustion might result as to make 
recovery impossible. What was there 
in winning the war if we were ruined 
ourselves? I am not a believer in 
barren revenge. We might not even get 
to that knock-out blow. By God's 
mercy the Germans broke down 



Quoted from Mrs. Millin, General Smuts, 
by courtesy of Messrs. Faber & Faber Ltd. 



internally. As I said in my first month 
in England, other forces were fighting 
for us than man and machine. What 
finished Germany was mutiny in the 
fleet and at home - the revolution of 
the people. It was on account of the 
mutiny and revolution that the Kaiser 
fled. The army stood firm and fought a 
magnificent rearguard action back to 
the Rhine. The Germans never failed 
as a war machine. My line was right. 
Everything shows it today. I was for a 
peace that would give the world a 
chance. Not Absolute victors and 
absolute defeated. We are ruined today 
because the world is divided into 
victors and defeated. 

My father was right. The war was 
inconclusive. There were no victors 
and no vanquished - not in the 
military, nor in the material, sense. In 
the circumstances the imposing of 



peace terms that were indecisive - 
neither harsh nor lenient - was a 
tragedy from which the world has not 
recovered. 

In the flush of victory, and the 
"emotions of the moment", my father 
said, it is not merely that thrones and 
empires are falling, and ancient 
institutions suddenly collapsing. A 
world order is visibly passing before 
our eyes, and the danger is that things 
may go too far and a setback be given 
to Europe from which she does not 
recover for generations... What a doom 
has come over Germany! What a price 
she has paid for her ambitions and 
crimes... Now as we organise the 
world for victory, let us organise it 
against hunger and unemployment. 
Not only the liberated territories of our 
Allies, not only our small neutral 
neighbours, but the enemy countries 



themselves, require our helping hand. 
Let us extend it in all generosity and 
magnanimity." 

The claim for Allied magnanimity was 
a strong one. It had paid Britain 
handsomely after the Boer War. We 
were to find, however, that the 
Prussian spirit was not as amenable as 
that of the Boer, though no one could 
foretell it at the time. They thought 
that the harsh feelings of Clemenceau 
and others were just a misplaced 
mania. 

turned to the Westminster, resolution: 

At an early stage in the war my 
father's thoughts had already turned to 
the machinery of peace. In a speech in 
Central Hall, Westminister, on 14th 
May, 1917, he moved the following 
resolution: 



That it is expedient in the interests of 
mankind that some machinery should 
be set up after the present war for the 
purpose of maintaining international 
rights and general peace, and this 
meeting welcomes the suggestion put 
forward for this purpose by the 
President of the United States and 
other influential statesmen in America 
and commends to the sympathetic 
consideration of the British peoples 
the idea of forming a union of free 
nations for the preservation of 
permanent peace. 

He went on: 

... progress has been made, and the 
subject is no longer merely academic, 
no longer merely Utopian. If the war 
has done nothing more, it has at any 
rate done this - it has stamped into the 
hearts of millions of men and women 
an intense desire for a better order of 



things ... Well - it is high time that 
something were done. 

The losses and sufferings of this war 
truly baffle description; one cannot 
contemplate without the profoundest 
emotion this horror that has come over 
Christendom, this spirit of self- 
destruction which has overtaken our 
so-called civilisation. After all the fair 
promises, all the fair hopes, all the fine 
enthusiasm of the nineteenth century, 
this is what we have come to. It is 
computed that nearly 8,000,000 people 
have already been killed in this war - 
not the old and decrepit, not the unfit, 
but the best - the very best, those who 
should have been the natural creators 
of the new world, they lie buried on 
the battlefields of civilisation, while 
larger numbers have been maimed and 
rendered unfit for the rest of their 
lives. It is probable that the number of 



killed and wounded in this war is not 
far short of that of the total white 
population of the British Empire. Is 
that not a matter to stir humanity to its 
depths? I think the time has come for 
very, very serious consideration of this 
matter. You see the most criminal 
disregard of all laws, human and 
divine. You see civilisation itself 
almost crumbling to pieces, and I am 
sure if some means were not provided 
by which such calamities could be 
prevented in future, and the repetition 
of wars like this was still possible in 
the future, then the whale fabric of our 
civilisation will be in danger, people 
will become filled with universal 
despair, and you will find the nations 
of the world saying, as the poet said in 
his despair, "From the world's bitter 
wind seek shelter in the shadow of the 
grave." For what would be the use of 



life, or what would be the use of 
civilisation, if those are the fruits of all 
our efforts and all our endeavours? 

The scale of the disaster is so vast that 
the whole matter seems to be 
uncontrollable. Our nineteenth-century 
science taught us how to mobilise the 
forces of nature, but it did not 
strengthen our social conscience 
correspondingly, and the result is that 
all these forces have been collected 
into some horrible engine of 
destruction which now moves like the 
cursed thing it is, like some blind 
destiny which is treading over our 
civilisation... This is a time for action: 
this tragedy that has come over us 
calls for action. What the human 
intelligence has done the human 
intelligence can undo again. And I feel 
sure that if one-hundredth part of the 
consideration and the thought that 



have been given to the war is given to 
schemes of peace, them you will never 
see any war again... 

Now at first blush it does seem as if 
the end of this war would be about the 
most hopeless time imaginable to talk 
of schemes of lasting peace. For at the 
end of this war you will find the world 
divided into two hostile camps, with a 
chasm of hatred between them such as 
probably has never been seen in the 
world before. You will find an 
atmosphere of hatred and ill-will and 
of international estrangement such as 
has never been seen before in the 
history of the world. And when you 
come to think of creating machinery 
for lasting peace, you will have to bear 
in mind that the time, in a certain 
sense, will be the most unpropitious 
possible for the effort you are trying to 
make. 



On the other hand, I have also this 
feeling, and I am sure it is the right 
feeling, that deeper than that has been 
the good work that the war has done - 
the creation of a better feeling in the 
hearts of men... And when Europe 
rises from her sick bed in a long 
period of convalescence, as no doubt 
she will have to do, the germs of many 
good ideas will be able to develop in 
her, and let it be our effort to see that 
among those germs none will develop 
more strongly and more vigorously 
than this idea of peace which we are 
here this afternoon to foster... 

Now I mention what occurs to me as 
the second condition, also very 
important, and that is that at the end of 
this was we must conclude a good 
peace, because I do not see how you 
are going to have a perpetual peace, or 
the chance of perpetual peace, in 



future if this war is going to be ended 
like so many other wars as mere 
patchwork compromise between 
various conflicting interests... 

The third condition of lasting peace is 
that in some form or other we must 
bring about a league or a union of 
nations with some common organ of 
consultation on all vital issues. Of 
course the matter is extremely 
difficult, and I am not, as I have said, 
in a position to dogmatise, and in my 
own mind I am not clear as to the best 
course to pursue. I can quite well see 
that we may fail in our object if we 
start with too elaborate or too 
ambitious a scheme. The subject is 
enormously difficult, and you can by 
trying to achieve too much fail in 
achieving anything at all, and I must 
honestly confess that all the schemes 
that I have heard of so far have failed 



to carry conviction to my mind that 
they are practical and that they will 
achieve the objects we have in view. I 
would favour something more elastic, 
something more flexible, something 
which will be capable of adapting 
itself to the very complex circum- 
stances which arise from time to time 
in our complex European relations, 
and it is perhaps possible in that way 
to achieve more real good... 

There remains another condition - the 
condition, namely, that in any 
arrangement for future peace there 
should be at the back of it some 
sanction, some force - otherwise it 
remains merely talk, otherwise it 
remains simply a vision... 

There remains the question of 
disarmament. It is a very difficult 
question - more difficult than any 
other aspect of the subject, but from 



many points of view the most 
important. It is no use trying to 
prevent war when nations are armed to 
the teeth... 

One more consideration - and it is 
this. I do not refer to this as a 
condition of any future peace treaty, 
but I think it is most important and 
essential that the fundamental provi- 
sions to safeguard peace in future 
should be included in the peace treaty 
itself which is made after this war. 
This war has not been fought, at any 
rate as far as we are concerned, for the 
purpose of gain or material interests. 
Millions of men have given their lives 
in this war, millions more are prepared 
to give their lives in this war in order 
to achieve a good peace and to ensure 
it for the future, and I think it would 
be the proper course that the peace 
treaty which is concluded after this 



war shall contain as an integral part of 
it the fundamental provision, not in 
detail, but in principle, which will 
safeguard the future peace of the 
world. If that is done, then this war 
will not have been fought in vain... 

In January, 1918, Woodrow Wilson 
published a treatise on the League of 
Nations. It bristled with the idealism 
of which he was such an unrivalled 
exponent. Unfortunately his was not 
the rugged type of personality that 
held the masses, and tragically he soon 
lost American political support. His 
plans and aspirations simply became 
engulfed in the oblivion of isola- 
tionism. But he represented a great 
power and it was essential to maintain 
his enthusiasm. 

A month after the collapse of the 
Central Powers, on 14th December, 
1918, my father resigned from the War 



Cabinet. His task was done. On that 
day he wrote to Lloyd George: 

Now that the Elections are over I must 
ask you to release me from further 
service on the War Cabinet. I would 
have taken this step earlier, but while 
other Ministers were preoccupied with 
the Election I thought it necessary to 
carry on my work, especially as 
Chairman of the Cabinet Committee 
on Demobilisation. Now, however, 
that will no longer be necessary. 

When in May, 1917, you did me the 
honour to invite me to join the War 
Cabinet, I agreed in the end to accept 
your offer as I thought that was 
perhaps the best way in which I could 
do the war service which I was 
anxious to render. Since then we have 
been through a tremendous period, and 
I am glad to think that during all its 
ups and downs I have had the privilege 



to work in close collaboration with 
you for that victory which has finally 
crowned the Allied cause. 

For the invariable courtesy and 
consideration which I have received 
from you and all my other colleagues 
during that trying time 

I am indeed grateful, and it is with 
warm feelings that I part from you 
now. 

My father was under no illusions 
about the difficulties that faced 
statesmen at the peace table. As early 
as September, 1917, he had written 
Lord Loreburn: 

...Difficult as it has been to wage this 
terrible war, I am not sure that the 
making of peace will not be an even 
more difficult business, requiring 
greater courage and statesmanship and 
far sightedness. 



Germany is manoeuvring in order to 
get the belligerent Government round 
a conference table, as she knows that 
that motley crowd is sure to disagree 
among themselves and perhaps break 
up, and that she will win at the 
Conference Table more than she has 
lost in the field... 



38 : A Practical Suggestion 

On the 15th, the day on which General 
Botha arrived for the Peace 
Conference, my father published a 
comprehensive pamphlet on "The 
League of Nations - A Practical 
Suggestion". This "short sketch", 
which, he says, "was hastily written at 
the last moment, and amid other 
pressing duties, in view of the early 
meeting of the Peace Conference," 
was to become famous, for it 
embodied the major portion of ideas 
that were subsequently incorporated 
into the constitution of the League. He 
says in his foreword: 

My reflections have convinced me that 
the ordinary conception of the League 
of Nations is not a fruitful one, nor is 
it the right one, and that a radical 
transformation of it is necessary. If the 
League is ever to be a success it will 



have to occupy a much greater 
position, and perform many other 
functions besides those ordinarily 
assigned to it. Peace and War are 
resultants of many complex forces, 
and those forces will have to be 
gripped at an earlier stage of their 
growth, if peace is to be effectively 
maintained. To enable it to do so, the 
League will have to occupy the great 
position which has been rendered 
vacant by the destruction of so many 
of the old European Empires, and the 
passing away of the old European 
order. The League should be put into 
the very forefront of the programme of 
the Peace Conference, and be made 
the point of departure for the solution 
of many of the grave problems with 
which it will be confronted. 

He goes on in this "Practical 
Suggestion" to view the League not 



only as a possible means for 
preventing future wars, but much more 
as a great organ of the ordinary peace- 
ful life of civilisation, as the 
foundation of the new international 
system which will be erected on the 
ruins of this war, and as the starting 
point from which the peace 
arrangements of the forthcoming 
Conference should be made. Such an 
orientation of the idea seems to me 
necessary if the League is to become a 
permanent part of our international 
machinery. It is not sufficient for the 
League merely to be a sort of deus ex 
machina called in in very grave 
emergencies when the spectre of war 
appears; if it is to last, it must be much 
more. It must become part and parcel 
of the common international life of 
States, it must be an ever-visible, 
living, working organ of the policy of 



civilisation. It must function so 
strongly in the ordinary peaceful 
intercourse of States that it becomes 
irresistible in their disputes; its peace 
activity must be the foundation and 
guarantee of its war power... 

The attempt to farm empires or 
leagues of nations on the basis of 
inequality and the bondage and 
oppression of the smaller national 
units has failed, and the work has to be 
done all over again on a new basis and 
an enormous scale. The vast elemental 
forces liberated by this war, even more 
than the war itself, have been 
responsible for this great change. In 
the place of the great Empires we find 
the map of Europe now dotted with 
small nations, embryo states, derelict 
territories. Europe has been reduced to 
its original atoms. For the moment its 
political structure, the costly result of 



so many centuries of effort, has 
disappeared. But that state of affairs 
must be looked upon as temporary. 
The creative process in the political 
movement of humanity cannot be 
paralysed; the materials lie ready for a 
new reconstructive task, to which, let 
us hope, the courage and genius of 
Western civilisation will prove equal... 

As a programme for the forthcoming 
Peace Conference I would therefore 
begin by making two 

re commendations : 

(1) ...the Conference should regard 
itself as the first or preliminary 
meeting of the League, intended to 
work out its organisation, functions, 
and programme... 

... The case of Germany stands on a 
different footing which is clearly 
distinguishable in principle. In the first 



place, if Alsace-Lorraine is annexed to 
France, that would be a case of 
disannexation, as it has been put; that 
is to say, it is a case of restoring to 
France what was violently and 
wrongfully taken from her in 1871 
against the protests not only of France, 
but of the population of Alsace- 
Lorraine speaking through their 
elected representatives... Its restitution 
to France would therefore satisfy, 
instead of violating, the moral sense of 
the world. 

In the second place, the German 
colonies in the Pacific and Africa are 
inhabited by barbarians, who not only 
cannot possibly govern themselves, 
but to whom it would be impracticable 
to apply any ideas of political self- 
determination in the European sense. 
They might be consulted as to whether 
they want their German masters back, 



but the result would be so much a 
foregone conclusion that the 
consultation would be quite 
superfluous. The disposal of these 
Colonies should be decided on the 
principles which President Wilson has 
laid down in the fifth of his celebrated 
Fourteen Points... 

[Next he comes to Mandates, where he 
commends:] 

(4) That any authority, control, or 
administration which may be 
necessary in respect of these territories 
and peoples, other than their own self- 
determined autonomy, shall be the 
exclusive function of and shall be 
vested in the League of Nations and 
exercised by or on behalf of it. 

Now in discussing a problem like the 
Constitution of the League of Nations 
we must be careful not to set too much 



store on precedents. Our problem is 
gigantic and entirely novel; its solution 
will depend, not so much on following 
precedents never meant for such a 
novel and complex situation, but in 
boldly facing the situation and, if need 
be, creating a new precedent to meet 
it. The grand success of the British 
Empire depends not on its having 
followed any constitutional precedent 
of the past but on having met a new 
situation in history with a new creation 
in law; and as a matter of fact the new 
constitutional system grew empirically 
and organically out of the practical 
necessities of the colonial situation. So 
it will have to be here. And above all 
let us avoid cut-and-dried schemes 
meant as complete, definitive, and 
final solutions of our problem. Let its 
remember that we are only asked to 
make a beginning... 



...we must be equally careful to avoid 
the mere ineffective debating society 
at the other end. The new situation 
does not call for a new talking shop. 
We want an instrument of government 
which, however much talk is put into 
it at the one end, will grind out 
decisions at the other end... 

The League will never be a great 
success until there is formed as its 
main support a powerful international 
public opinion... 

After peace there will be a new and 
most important group of matters 
calling for the study or control of the 
permanent Staff. Thus the due 
execution of the provisions of the 
Peace Treaty will have to be carefully 
watched. New conditions of free 
transit by land, water, and air will 
become necessary, and require regula- 
tion and control by the League... 



...Then, again, there is the vast subject 
of industrial conditions, involving 
international labour conditions, which 
will call for expert inquiry and states- 
manlike handling by the League. All 
these thorny subjects will call for the 
appointment of expert committees or 
commissions on the Staff of the 
League which could prepare the 
material for a final expression of 
opinion by the League. 

Now it seems to me that some people 
expect too much from the new 
machinery of international Arbitration 
and Conciliation which emerges as the 
chief proposal for preventing future 
wars. War is a symptom of deep- 
seated evils: it is a disease or growth 
out of social and political conditions. 
While these conditions remain 
unaltered, it is vain to expect any good 
from new institutions superimposed on 



those conditions... The new institution 
of peace must not be something 
additional, something external, super- 
imposed on the pre-existing structure. 
It must be an organic change; it must 
be woven into the very texture of our 
political system... 

There follows a long section on 
disarmament and disarmament 
problems. Of these he considers the 
abolition of conscription the most 
important. 

Thereafter he proceeds to sanctions: 

... No declaration of war should be 
necessary, as the state of war arises 
automatically on the law-breaker 
proceeding to hostilities, and the 
boycott follows automatically from the 
obligation of the League without 
further resolutions or formalities on 
the part of the League. 



The effect of such a complete 
automatic trade and financial boycott 
will necessarily be enormous. The 
experience of this war has shown how 
such a boycott, effectively maintained 
chiefly through sea power, has in the 
end availed to break completely the 
most powerful military Power that the 
world has ever seen; and the lesson is 
not likely to he lost on future intending 
evildoers. It is because of this power 
of the economic and financial weapons 
that many writers are of opinion that 
the obligation for action by members 
of the League should not go beyond 
the use of these weapons. My view, 
however, is that they will not be 
enough if unsupported by military and 
naval action. A powerful military State 
may think that a sudden military blow 
will achieve its object in spite of 
boycotts, provided that no greater 



military reaction from the rest of the 
League need be feared. This fear may 
under certain circumstances be a more 
effective deterrent than even the 
boycott; and I do not think the League 
is likely to prove a success unless in 
the last resort the maintenance of the 
moratorium is guaranteed by force. 
The obligation on the members of the 
League to use force for this purpose 
should therefore be absolute, but the 
amount of the force and the 
contribution from the members should 
be left to the recommendation of the 
Council to the respective Governments 
in each case... 

Finally he draws to an end: 

... mankind is once more on the move. 
The very foundations have been 
shaken and loosened, and things are 
again fluid. The tents have been 
struck, and the great caravan of 



humanity is once more on the march. 
Vast social and industrial changes are 
coming, perhaps upheavals which 
may, in their magnitude and effects, be 
comparable to war itself. A steadying, 
controlling, regulating influence will 
be required to give stability to 
progress, and to remove that wasteful 
friction which has dissipated so much 
social force in the past, and in this war 
more than ever before. These great 
functions could only be adequately 
fulfilled by the League of Nations. 
Responding to such vital needs and 
coming at such a unique opportunity 
in history, it may well be destined to 
mark a new era in the Government of 
Man, and become to the peoples the 
guarantee of Peace, to the workers of 
all races the great International, and to 
all the embodiment and living 



expression of the moral and spiritual 
unity of the human race. 



39 : Peace Conference 

Woodrow WILSON was captivated 
by the phrase "Europe is being 
liquidated and the League of Nations 
must be heir to this great estate". 
Lansing says he kept on repeating it 
over and over. He had been equally 
struck by the rest of my father's 
treatise. It crystallised his thoughts on 
many points which so far had been 
only vague ideas. 

He therefore proceeded to redraft his 
scheme, in which he incorporated 
virtually all my father's suggestions. 
There is no controversy on the point of 
how much of the drafting of the 
Covenant is Wilson's work. Colonel 
House and most authorities declare 
that not a single idea of Wilson's 
league plan was original. He merely 
edited and compiled. At a preliminary 
meeting of the Peace Conference he 



admitted that he "was unable to 
foresee the variety of circumstances 
with which the League would have to 
deal. I was unable, therefore, to plan 
all the machinery necessary to meet 
differing and unexpected 

contingencies." 

The answers to many of these differing 
and unexpected contingencies were 
supplied to him, as often as not, by my 
father. He told the American Senate 
that he had rewritten his draft on the 
League "in the light of a paper by 
General Smuts, who seemed to have 
done some very clear thinking in 
regard to what was to be done to 
pieces of the dismembered Empires". 

At Versailles my father was elected to 
the Commission of the League of 
Nations, over which Wilson presided. 
Other members were Lord Cecil for 
Britain, Leon Bourgeois for France, 



Roman Dmowski for Poland and 
Venizelos for Greece. 

On 19th January, 1919, it was felt to 
be high time that agreement was 
reached between the views of Britain 
and the United States, so that a united 
front could be put up to the other 
countries, who talked interminably. A 
meeting was arranged. Wilson was 
accompanied by Colonel House. My 
father was strangely silent and left 
Cecil to do the major portion of the 
talking. Several important decisions 
resulted from this small meeting, 
among others the plan for a Permanent 
Court of International Justice. 

From the 3rd to the 13th of February 
the big Commission held three-hour 
meetings every day. Orlando of Italy 
and Dr. Kramarsch the Czech were 
very loquacious. Wellington Koo of 
China spoke but seldom. My father 



again said little and left to Cecil the 
task of explaining the important 
problem of protection of minorities, 
published as Article 22 in my father's 
treatise of 15th December, 1918. 

The conduct of the delegates at the 
Peace Conference was hardly edifying. 
All ideas of restraint and reason 
appeared to have snapped, and greed 
and rapaciousness prevailed. There 
was an undisguised and sordid 
scramble for booty and material gains. 
With the bare exception of Wilson and 
my father, all seem to have 
succumbed. Lloyd George threw 
himself into the fray with all his Celtic 
frenzy; on occasion he even clashed 
with my father. The French ardour 
turned into a burning fever. The 
jackals, hyenas and lesser fry all 
danced around and yapped impatiently 
for their portions. 



It was not only the passion of greed, 
but also of revenge and vindictiveness. 
It was inevitable after a great war. 

Wilson, the man of the hour, was 
pained by what he saw. For a while he 
was almost disillusioned. Yet he never 
ceased to conduct himself like the 
great idealist and gentleman. The 
greedy did not have an easy passage 
with him. My father saw it was not the 
time to press for the incorporation of 
South-West Africa into the Union. He 
did the next best thing. In his Mandate 
System, he had devised various 
categories of mandates. He saw to it 
that the Union took over South-West 
Africa under a "C" Mandate, which 
was almost tantamount to annexation 
and left the future incorporation open 
for decision by plebiscite. Virtually 
South Africa's only obligation was to 
send annual reports to Geneva. 



Wilson dealt firmly with others who 
wished to annex conquered territory. 
The best they got was a Mandate. 
Such were his scruples that he even 
turned down all the mandates offered 
to America. Of his integrity at 
Versailles there can be no question. 
When America herself clamoured for 
the sole right to the Panama Canal, he 
alone insisted that it should be a world 
gateway. 

My father had a very high regard for 
Wilson's idealism. He was not quite so 
eulogistic about his leadership at 
Versailles. He was too much of a 
dreamer and too little of a practical 
man. The rough and tumble of the 
Conference diplomacy was rather 
beyond his control. Moreover he had 
about him a group of advisers that left 
much to be desired. 



But for all that he thought him a 
greater man than Lincoln. Lincoln, he 
said, was a luckier man, however, for 
after four years of a poorly directed 
war against the South all censure of 
him was averted by the bullet of an 
assassin, and his memory has grown 
ever greater at the expense of poor 
Grant on whom all the opprobrium has 
fallen. There was no assassin in 
Wilson's case. He had to bear the 
mistakes of the Conference himself, 
and it broke him and perhaps shattered 
a great name in the eyes of posterity. 

It was [my father says] Wilson's 
reputation that was murdered. They 
murdered it with ridicule. Nobody 
remembered that he was a man with 
the hand of death on him, standing 
alone against his country's betrayal of 
principles to which it was pledged. 



I don't say Wilson made no mistakes. 
He made a mistake in coming to 
Europe with a poor staff, and a worse 
mistake in coming without his 
opponents. He should have included 
some of his opponents - for instance, 
Elihu Root and Taft - among the 
delegates he brought with him, and it 
would have become a non-political 
affair and gone through, and all history 
would have been different. 

Instead, he left his opponents in 
America to conspire against him, and 
they used the tragedy of Europe for 
their own political ends. They made it 
a party business to turn down the 
Treaty and the League in order to 
throw out the Democrats. 

There are some who think Wilson 
should not have come to Paris at all. I 
don't agree with them. Only Wilson 
could have put through the League. 



The other statesmen weren't 
concerned about the League except as 
an instrument for their own ends - that 
is to say, their country's ends: Wilson 
put the League above this greedy 
squabbling. It was for the League he 
compromised on other things; 
whereupon everyone fastened on his 
small surrenders. 

Believe me, the trouble did not lie in 
the small surrenders, or in the fact that 
Wilson did not bring home what he 
called "the fabric" intact. He was not a 
practical man. He had this vast 
structure of a plan, which needed to be 
adapted to varying facts and 
circumstances and filled in with 
details, and as he got little help or 
understanding from his staff, he 
looked to others for these facts and 
details. 



He was not, as Keynes says in 
Economic Consequences - I saw him a 
great deal and you can take it from me 
- so bamboozled that he could not 
even be de-bamboozled. If, for 
instance, he yielded his point about the 
Freedom of the Seas, it wasn't simply 
because the other Allies insisted on it, 
or because of bamboozlement. He had 
to yield it because it could not be 
squared with the fundamental 
conception of the League. Freedom of 
the Seas implies neutrality on the seas. 
If the League was to be effective - to 
be able to act in time of war - there 
could be no neutrality, no freedom of 
the seas... 

The truth is, America wanted a reason 
for repudiating Wilson. The world 
wanted a scapegoat. At that opportune 
moment Keynes brought out his 
Economic Consequences of the Peace. 



There were a few pages about Wilson 
in it which exactly suited the politics 
of America and the world's mood. 
When I encouraged Keynes to write 
that book, I knew his views about the 
statesmen at Paris. But I did not expect 
a personal note in his book, I did not 
expect him to turn Wilson into a figure 
of fun. 

These few pages about Wilson in 
Keynes's book made an Aunt Sally of 
the noblest figure - perhaps the only 
noble figure - in the history of the 
war, and they led a fashion against 
Wilson that was adopted by the 
intelligentsia of the day and is not yet 
past - the intelligentsia (not the 
intellectuals) - the people who, 
admiring only their own cleverness, 
despise real goodness, real thought, 
real wisdom... 



But for Keynes's description of 
Wilson, nothing worse might have 
been fairly said of him than that he 
handled Congress ineptly when he 
took the League back to America or 
that he did not understand party 
politics. I remember saying to him, 
"Can you carry the treaty? Can you 
get your two-thirds majority?" "I 
absolutely can," he said; and he was 
struck down in the middle of his 
single-handed fight for it. 

He had no disciples. Perhaps it was a 
deficiency in him that he found none. I 
can't help remembering that if it 
depended on the intelligentsia of the 
day, our knowledge of Christ would be 
a casual and contemptuous remark in 
Tacitus. A few fishermen in Galilee 
prevented it. 17 



Quoted from Mrs. Millin, op. cit. 



The failure of Wilson to carry America 
was more than a disaster, for it meant 
not only that America did not come 
into the League, but also that she 
remained undivorced from her ancient 
path of isolationism. To the League 
this was a crippling blow, for it 
signified that from its very inception it 
was bereft of its chief member and the 
only one that could really have 
enabled it to be a force to be reckoned 
with. Those who later came to judge 
the League by its failures and 
shortcomings would do well to 
consider what might have been the 
case had the United States not left it in 
the lurch. 

The question of reparations, or as 
Woodrow Wilson preferred to call 
them, "indemnities", caused one of the 
major controversies of the Conference. 
It raged for months. While my father 



pleaded that unnecessarily heavy 
tribute should not be exacted from 
Germany, committees were 

deliberating to see how much they 
could squeeze out of the vanquished. 
Wilson and my father disagreed fund- 
amentally on the question of repara- 
tions. Wilson maintained that 
indemnities should be limited to 
material war damage. My father felt 
they should be used as compensation 
for damage to civilians. 

Meanwhile a British committee under 
Hughes of Australia had agreed that 
compensations should be paid to 
civilians, and provisionally assessed 
the damage at over twenty-four 
thousand million pounds. The French 
had worked out even more farfetched 
ideas on compensation to civilians, 
including pensions to widows and 
disabled soldiers. Germany must be 



made to pay for her sins and to restore 
the world to its pristine condition. 

The Americans were more moderate 
and realistic. They suggested 
something like two thousand million 
pounds during the first two years and 
then interest and capital repayment of 
twelve thousand million pounds over 
thirty-five years. 

Wilson stuck to his point for months. 
Then, to break the impasse, he called 
on my father to "establish a 
compromise between Lloyd George's 
election pledge to the British people to 
demand the entire costs of the war, and 
the assurance to the contrary given to 
the enemy by the Allies at the time of 
the Armistice". Wilson held my father 
in high esteem both because of his 
ability and for his championship of the 
League. 



My father prepared a memorandum 
which "was the final argument" and 
convinced the President. When 
Wilson's legal advisers told him that 
they were strongly opposed to the 
pension scheme as "all logic was 
against it", he flew into a frenzy and 
said he did not "care a damn for logic" 
and was going to include pensions. 

My father's point in insisting on the 
inclusion of allowances and pensions 
was to ensure that the war-ravished 
countries of Europe did not get the 
lion's share, while financially 
exhausted England was left in the 
cold. It was only later, when France 
swelled her reparation amount to 
fantastic proportions, my father said, 
that it became not only a farce but 
"one of those things that are 
responsible for the Germany of 
today..." 



The idea of having the delegates from 
the Dominions sign the Peace terms 
independentiy of the United Kingdom 
did not appeal to Lloyd George and 
other British statesmen, but my father 
pressed the point that it might stress 
the unique partnership of the 
Commonwealth. 

General Botha had joined my father in 
London. He was tired and far from 
well, and had lost much weight. The 
family liver disease was upon him and 
already it had gone to his heart and 
legs, and he himself had a premonition 
that he would not see the year out. In 
South Africa he had found the burden 
since my father had left almost more 
than he could bear. For the past three 
years he had had to bear alone the 
taunts and jeers of the Opposition, as 
well as the vast responsibilities of a 
nation at war. 



To my father his period in Paris was 
akin to purgatory. The prodigies of 
work he had been performing for the 
past months, and was still performing, 
had left him somewhat jaded, though 
Colonel House says that of all the 
delegates my father appeared the only 
one not tired. He lived only for the 
work of the Conference and shunned 
the distractions of Paris, in which 
other delegates found a pleasant outlet. 
Always it was just his suite in the 
Hotel Majestic and the Conference 
tables. Nothing could have been more 
depressing than those committee 
rooms, with their interminable 
wrangles, unabashed greed, and 
inevitable deadlocks. Nobody was in a 
mood for seeing the broader picture or 
for planning for posterity. They were 
out simply to get all they could - and 
to leave the future to take care of 



itself. It cut across the idealism of my 
father and shook his faith - though, 
only momentarily - in human nature. 
It was not that he was out of his 
element here; it was just that he 
despaired of good and sanity 
prevailing. He has described it as the 
"unhappiest time" of his life. At times 
he wondered whether ten million lives 
had not been shed in vain. 

Clemenceau had seen Paris in flames 
in 1871 and never forgot it. He hated 
Germany with a deep and implacable 
hatred. He was for France only. He 
was ancient, determined and eloquent. 
With this crusty, often openly 
contemptuous, veteran Woodrow 
Wilson had to compete. Unfortunately 
it was beyond his powers or his nature. 
Often he found the stormy eloquence 
of Lloyd George equally difficult to 
cope with. This gift in the great 



Welshman must have been 
phenomenally highly developed, for it 
made an impression on my father 
unsurpassed even by the immortal ora- 
tions of Winston Churchill during the 
Second World War. It was not till 
1943 that he was prepared to put Mr. 
Churchill on an equal footing with the 
Welshman. Lloyd George must have 
been a great and wonderful 
personality; but like Wilson, he was 
eventually killed by a political system. 






Hungary was in the clutches of a Red 
revolution. At the head was an 
unscrupulous Jew named Bela Kun, 
who had deposed Count Karolyi and 
established his brigand clique in 
power. In Paris the Big Four were 
perturbed at this revolutionary 
manifestation, for they felt it 
endangered their European 



reconstruction programme, and might 
well spread to Germany and other 
countries. 

At first they decided to send General 
Mangim to restore authority, but later 
they changed their minds and asked 
my father to go instead. With him he 
had his aide Captain Ernest Lane, R. 
Leeper, Colonel Heywood, Cyril 
Butler and Harold Nicolson of the 
Foreign Office. Nicolson wrote: "The 
ostensible purpose of our mission is to 
fix an armistice line between the 
Hungarians and Roumanians, yet the 
real idea at the back is to see whether 
Bela Kun is worth using as a vehicle 
for getting into touch with Moscow." 
They travelled at slow speed through 
Austria, and my father could not help 
noticing the pinched, starved look of 
the people. Vienna was littered with 
rubbish, and in a much neglected state. 



For Sir Thomas Cunninghame, Head 
of the British Military Mission, the 
visit started off badly, for at Sachers 
he got into disfavour with my father 
for taking the delegation to a sumpt- 
uous meal costing 1,200 kronen, in 
this land of starvation: My father said 
it was a "gross error in taste" and that 
henceforth they were to feed only on 
their own army rations. 

Hungary had been looted and 
plundered and this terror was 
continuing daily. When the news of 
my father's impending visit got about, 
the plundering was temporarily 
suspended and people breathed freely 
once more after weeks of terror. At the 
same time, the importance of a visit by 
my father lent considerable support to 
Kun, who was merely one brigand 
among many. 



On the morning of 4th April they 
arrived at Budapest station. Bela Kun 
arrived later, a small insignificant 
figure in a frock coat and top hat. At 
midday he left, seemingly pleased 
with his visit. My father declined his 
invitation to stay in the Hungaria, 
which was specially beflagged and 
decorated for the purpose, saying he 
would remain in his train. So they 
continued living frugally in the train 
where, Nicolson says, "Smuts presides 
over our trench meals as if giving us a 
banquet at the Savoy." Nor would my 
father consent to attend a banquet in 
the Ritz, whereupon Kun, much 
affronted, also stayed at home. 

On the evening of the next day Kun 
and retinue paid a visit to my father in 
the train and handed him a note. 
Having read it he said: "No, 
gentlemen, this is not a note which I 



can accept. There must be no 
reservations." So briefly bidding them 
good-bye he got into the train and 
gave the order to depart, leaving Kun 
and company standing bewildered on 
the platform. He had decided that Kun 
really had no authority and was of no 
use to them. 

"We then dine," Nicolson writes in his 
diary. "Smuts is delightful, telling us 
stories of the veld with a ring of deep 
homesickness in his voice. A lovely 
man... 

On the 7th in Prague, he drove to the 
palace to visit Masaryk, with whom he 
conversed for an hour. 

Back in Paris later, they found that the 
press had described their mission as a 
"fiasco". It was not that, nor even 
unfruitful, for it had revealed that Kun 
was a mere puppet and Hungary in a 



hopeless condition. To my father the 
trip had been a pleasant interlude from 
the depression of Paris. 



40 : Controversy 

At Paris my father spared no effort to 
support the Covenant and to save the 
peace. He never wearied of the 
struggle. R.S. Baker says that he, 
"more than any other man, typified 
British Liberal opinion at Paris". 

At the opening of the Conference in 
his simple language and forceful logic 
he begged that the enemy be treated 
with "pity and restraint", pointing out 
that "civilisation is one body and we 
are all members of one another". He 
pressed doggedly for the "generous 
treatment of Germany as a vital factor 
in the restoration of human civilisa- 
tion". 

In 1919 E. T. Raymond wrote "... he, 
above all other statesmen, realises that 
this is no dynastic struggle to be 



patched up by another Berlin or 
Vienna conference". 

He kept on complaining that we were 
insisting on impossible peace terms. 
Frequently he protested vigorously to 
Lloyd George and Wilson on the way 
the treaty was being drafted. "We 
cannot destroy Germany without 
destroying Europe... We cannot save 
Europe without the co-operation of 
Germany... My fear is that the Paris 
Conference may prove one of the 
historic failures of the world. 

"You may strip Germany of her 
colonies, reduce her armaments to a 
mere police force and her navy to that 
of a fifth-rate power; all the same, in 
the end, if she feels that she has been 
unjustly treated in the peace of 1919 
she will find means of exacting 
retribution from her conquerors." 



He never wearied of speaking and 
writing about the evils of the Peace 
Treaty. He worked on the various 
delegates and his associates. He wrote 
to Lloyd George and to Wilson. He 
wrote to them again and again, even at 
the cost of tediousness, of his deep 
pride, for he felt it was his duty. 

He condemned the wisdom and 
doubted the practicability of some of 
the terms in the strongest fashion. In 
May he said to the British Delegation; 

They are such that I personally would 
hesitate before I subscribed my name 
to them, even if the Germans are 
willing to submit under duress... If the 
Germans are prepared to swallow this 
Treaty, I still consider its provisions 
such as to make future peace and 
goodwill in Europe unlikely; an 
international atmosphere will be 
created which will make the 



beneficent operation of the League of 
Nations impossible; the fires will be 
kept burning and the pot be kept 
boiling until it again boils over, either 
in a new war, or in the breakdown of 
the European system under the 
onslaught of social and industrial 
anarchy... I would urge... even at this 
twelfth hour, and even at the risk of 
our losing some diplomatic credit, that 
we remove the most objectionable 
features from the Peace Treaty. 
Unfortunately the wrong procedure we 
have hitherto followed in the dramatic 
publication and presentation to the 
Germans makes the course I propose 
very difficult for us and almost 
humiliating. But that surely is a minor 
consideration where so much is at 
stake for the world... 

My proposal is as follows: Germans 
have been invited to state their 



objections to provisions of the Draft 
Treaty. They are now pouring forth a 
great volume of ponderous notes 
embodying their views. These views 
we should be prepared to consider 
fairly and sincerely on their merits, 
and where we find a good case made 
out against our draft we should be 
prepared to modify our proposals. 

In the middle of May he wrote to 
Lloyd George and Wilson: 



The more I have studied the Peace 
Treaty as a whole, the more I dislike it. 
The combined effect of the territorial 
and reparation clauses is to make it 
practically impossible for Germany to 
carry out the provisions of the Treaty. 
And then the Occupation Clauses 
come in to plant the French on the 
Rhine indefinitely, even beyond the 
already far-too-long period of fifteen 



years, under an undefined regime of 
martial law. East and West, blocks of 
Germans are put under their historic 
enemies. Under this Treaty Europe 
will know no peace; and the 
undertaking to defend Europe against 
aggression may at any time bring the 
British Empire also into the fire. 

I am grieved beyond words that such 
should be the result of our 
statesmanship. I admit it was hard to 
appear to fight for the German cause 
with our other Allies, especially with 
devastated France. But now that the 
Germans can state their own case, I 
pray you will use your power and 
influence to make the final Treaty a 
more moderate and reasonable 
document. 



Wilson replied: "I feel the terrible 
responsibility of the whole business, 



but inevitably my thought goes back to 
the very great offence against 
civilisation which the German State 
committed, and the necessity for 
making it evident once and for all that 
such things can lead only to the most 
severe punishment." 

My father wrote to Wilson again: 



Even at the risk of wearying you I 
venture to address you once more. The 
German answer to our draft Peace 
Terms seems to me to strike the 
fundamental note which is most 
dangerous to us and which we are 
bound to consider most carefully. 
They say in effect that we are under 
solemn obligation to them to make a 
Wilson Peace, a peace in accordance 
with your Fourteen Points and other 
Principles enunciated in 1918. To my 
mind there is absolutely no doubt that 



this is so. Subject to the two 
reservations made by the Allies before 
the Armistice, we are bound to make a 
peace within the four corners of your 
Points and Principles, and any 
provisions of the Treaty which go 
either contrary to or beyond their 
general scope and intent would 
constitute a breach of agreement... 

There will be a terrible disillusionment 
if the peoples come to think we are not 
concluding a Wilson Peace, that we 
are not keeping our promises to the 
world or faith with the public. But, if 
in so doing, we appear also to break a 
formal agreement deliberately entered 
into (as I think we do), we shall be 
overwhelmed with the gravest 
discredit, and this Peace may become 
an even greater disaster to the world 
than the war was. 



Forgive me for troubling you with this 
matter, but I believe it goes to the root 
of the whole case... 



There was also heated correspondence 
between Lloyd George and my father. 
In a mood of exasperation Lloyd 
George taunted my father on the 
question of reparations and South- 
west Africa. My father replied calmly: 

I am sorry to involve you in any 
correspondence at a time like this, 
when you are preoccupied with the 
gravest difficulties. I write to you in 
no polemical sense... 

Whatever view one holds of these 
[Wilson's] formulas, I should say that 
our proposed disposal of the Saar 
Basin, of Danzig, and of Memel 
violated them. They are indisputably 
German territories with German 



populations, which we have no right 
under these formulas to tear off 
Germany... And it is not necessary for 
the future Poland that there should be 
a free Danzig under Polish suzerainty, 
any more than it is necessary to have a 
free Hamburg as an outiet for future 
Czechoslovakia. . . . 

With regard to the German colonies, I 
do not for a moment contemplate their 
return to Germany as one of the 
concessions we should make. No 
doubt in future, when a new 
atmosphere has grown up, the German 
claims to colonial mandates will come 
to be viewed in a different light and 
that contingency has to be kept in view 
of whatever arrangements we make 
now. But please do not have the 
impression that 1 would be generous 
at the expense of others, so long as the 
Union gets South- West Africa. In this 



great business South-West Africa is as 
dust compared to the burdens now 
hanging over the civilised world. And 
that is how the matter will be viewed 
in the Union also. People who have 
been under the harrow have been in 
the greatest of all schools. And believe 
me the percussion of this Peace Treaty 
in South Africa is going to be 
tremendous. Events may soon prove 
that it has made the position of men 
like General Botha and myself very 
difficult, if not impossible. The 
strength of our position has been the 
belief of a large section of the Dutch 
population in the spirit of fair play and 
moderation as characteristic of British 
policy. Whether that belief will 
survive this Peace Treaty time alone 
can show, but the signs are ominous. 
And when the sense of fair play of 
people is outraged and their faith is 



destroyed and a stain is put on their 
conscience, they will not stop to look 
at a bit of desert. No, even as regards 
South Africa, I view the situation 
created by the Peace Treaty with the 
gravest concern... 

Prime Minister! do not for a moment 
imagine that I write in any other but a 
most friendly and sympathetic spirit 
which I am sure you will not resent. 
Perhaps the main difference between 
us is that you are struggling in the 
water, while I shout advice from the 
shore! But I feel deeply this is no time 
to mince matters. When you are up 
against a position so terrible in its 
possibilities for good and evil, you can 
only do one thing, even if you fail 
utterly. And that is the right thing, the 
thing you can justify to your 
conscience and that of all other 
reasonable fair-minded people. This 



Treaty breathes a poisonous spirit of 
revenge, which may yet scorch the fair 
face - not of a corner of Europe, but of 
Europe. 

Elsewhere he remarked in regard to 
Poland: "Poland is an historic failure 
and will always be a failure, and in 
this Treaty we are trying to reverse the 
verdict of history... 

How true these prophecies have 
unfortunately become! 

When Lloyd George invited my father 
to become a member of a commission 
on Austrian reparations he turned it 
down; he had had more than enough of 
reparations, already, and wrote in 
reply to Mr. Lloyd George: "While I 
am willing, and indeed anxious, to 
help with the work I do not think ... 
that my going on the commission will 
serve any useful purpose, and my 



opposition to what seems your policy 
will only waste time where speed is 
right. For the imposition of reparations 
on a broken, bankrupt, economically 
impossible state like Austria, or a new, 
friendly allied state like Czecho- 
slovakia ... seems to be a hopeless 
policy which could only lead to the 
most mischievous results. I am against 
payment of all reparation of these 
countries for damage done by the dead 
and dismembered Austro -Hungarian 
Empire. And if it is (as it appears) 
your policy to exact reparation in these 
cases ... I hope you will excuse me 
from serving on the commission..." 

From such wranglings and cross- 
currents and indecision at the 
Conference dangerous new moods 
rose. On 23rd June Focla threatened to 
reopen the war and to cross the Rhine. 



Finally the terms of the surrender were 
agreed upon. 

On the 28th June, 1918, the fifth 
anniversary of Sarajevo, the Peace 
Treaty was signed. 

My father and Botha signed under 
protest. America did not sign at all. 



41 : Signing Of The Peace 

Paris was a happy hunting ground for 
delegations of small disgruntled and 
discontented groups. There had been 
much talk of sacred rights and the 
equality of partnership within the 
Commonwealth. Hertzog brought a 
delegation to seek a republican 
constitution for South Africa. When 
they embarked on their mission at 
Cape Town the crew of the Union- 
Castle liner refused to man the vessel. 
The British admiral's offer of H.M.S. 
Minerva at Simonstown was refused 
by Hertzog, who Preferred to board a 
Dutch ship and reach Europe via New 
York. At Paris he was courteously 
received by Lloyd George, who firmly 
explained to him that Botha and my 
father were the official representatives 
and that he was afraid he could not 



consider representations from a 
minority group. Hertzog's mission was 
a failure, but he returned to the Union 
with the happy conviction that the 
Nationalists would treat this as a 
personal rebuff, and that it would fan 
their anti-British feelings. 

Woodrow Wilson returned home and 
toured America to gain support for the 
Treaty and the League. The American 
people were not in a mood to be 
moved. Wilson was rapidly going to 
pieces himself. His failing health was 
aggravated by insomnia, and 
sometimes he would break down and 
weep in public. In the end his efforts 
were defeated, and a stroke at the 
conclusion of his tour left him 
paralysed. 

In the Hall of Mirrors, in the historic 
palace at Versailles, where Germany 
had once dictated peace terms to 



France, the nations forgathered on 
June 28 to sign the Peace. Of the many 
delegates assembled who signed, only 
Foch, Botha and my father had borne 
active arms against the enemy. 

Some days before the signing of the 
terms, my father told General Botha 
that he was not prepared to sign this 
document, and that he had decided to 
leave shortly for South Africa. Botha 
cabled the Governor-General, "while I 
share his difficulties against the 
Treaty, I have decided to sign because 
my position as Prime Minister is 
different from his, and my signature is 
necessary to make the Union a 
member of the League of Nations and 
secure for her the new status in the 
world". Lloyd George's advice to my 
father was to sign under protest and to 
record his objections afterwards. This 
advice he accepted and forthwith sat 



down to draft his criticism of the 
Treaty. 

Even as the bells in Britain were 
pealing the joyous tidings of the peace, 
this lengthy protest appeared in the 
British press, where it was regarded as 
one of the most striking events of the 
day. 

I have signed the Peace Treaty [he 
recorded], not because I consider it a 
satisfactory document, but because it 
is imperatively necessary to close the 
war; because the world needs peace 
above all, and nothing could be more 
fatal than the continuance of the state 
of suspense between war and peace. 
The six months since the armistice 
was signed have perhaps been as 
upsetting, unsettling, and ruinous to 
Europe as the previous four years of 
war. I look upon the Peace Treaty as 
the close of those two chapters of war 



and armistice, and only on that ground 
do I agree to it. 

I say this now, not in criticism but in 
faith; not because I wish to find fault 
with the work done, but rather because 
I feel that in the Treaty we have not 
yet achieved the real peace to which 
our peoples were looking, and because 
I feel that the real work of making 
peace will only begin after this Treaty 
has been signed, and a definite halt has 
thereby been called to the destructive 
passions that have been desolating 
Europe for nearly five years. This 
Treaty is simply the liquidation of the 
war situation in the world. 

The promise of the new life, the 
victory of the great human ideals, for 
which the peoples have shed their 
blood and their treasure without stint, 
the fulfilment of their aspirations 
towards a new international order, and 



a fairer, better world; are not written in 
this Treaty, and will not be written in 
Treaties. "Not in this Mountain, nor in 
Jerusalem, but inspirit and in truth," as 
the Great Master said, must the 
foundations of the new order be laid. 
A new heart must be given, not only to 
our enemies, but also to us; a contrite 
spirit for the woes which have over- 
whelmed the world; a spirit of pity, 
mercy, and forgiveness for the sins 
and wrongs which we have suffered. A 
new spirit of generosity and humanity, 
born in the hearts of the peoples in this 
great hour of common suffering and 
sorrow, can alone heal the wounds 
which have been inflicted on the body 
of Christendom. 

And this new spirit among the peoples 
will be the solvent for the problems 
which the statesmen have found too 
hard at the Conference. There are 



territorial settlements which in my 
humble judgment will need revision. 

There are guarantees laid down, which 
we all hope will soon be found out of 
harmony with the new peaceful temper 
and unarmed state of our former 
enemies. 

There are punishments foreshadowed, 
over most of which a calmer mood 
may yet prefer to pass the sponge of 
oblivion. 

There are indemnities stipulated, 
which cannot be enacted without grave 
injury to the industrial revival of 
Europe, and which it will be in the 
interests of all to render more tolerable 
and moderate. 

There are numerous pin-pricks, which 
will cease to pain under the healing 
influences of the new international 
atmosphere. 



The real peace of the peoples ought to 
follow, complete, and amend the peace 
of the statesmen. 

In this Treaty, however, two 
achievements of far-reaching import- 
ance for the world are definitely 
recorded. The one is the destruction of 
Prussian militarism; the other is the 
institution of the League of Nations. I 
am confident that the League of 
Nations will yet prove the path of 
escape for Europe out of the ruin 
brought about by this war. 

But the League is as yet only a form. It 
still requires the quickening life, 
which can only come from the active 
interest and the vitalising contact of 
the peoples themselves. The new 
creative spirit, which is once more 
moving among the peoples in their 
anguish, must fill the institution with 
life, and with inspiration for the 



specific ideals born of this war, and so 
convert it into a real instrument of 
progress. In that way the abolition of 
militarism, in this Treaty unfortunately 
confined to the enemy, may soon 
come as a blessing and relief to the 
Allied peoples as well. 

And the enemy peoples should at the 
earliest possible date join the League, 
and in collaboration with the Allied 
peoples learn to practise the great 
lesson of this war, that not in separate 
ambitions or in selfish domination, but 
in common service for the great 
human causes, lies the true path of 
national progress. 

This joint collaboration is especially 
necessary today for the reconstruction 
of a ruined and broken world. 

The war has resulted, not only in the 
utter defeat of the enemy armies, but 



has gone immeasurably further. We 
witness the collapse of the whole 
political and economic fabric of 
Central and Eastern Europe. 
Unemployment, starvation, anarchy, 
war, disease, despair stalk through the 
land. Unless the victors can effectively 
extend a helping hand to the defeated 
and broken peoples, a large part of 
Europe is threatened with exhaustion 
and decay. Russia has already walked 
into the night, and the risk that the rest 
may follow is very grave indeed. 

The effects of this disaster would not 
be confined to Central and Eastern 
Europe. For civilisation is one body, 
and we are all members of one 
another. 

A supreme necessity is laid on all to 
grapple with this situation. And in the 
joint work of beneficence, the old 
feuds will tend to be forgotten, the 



roots of reconciliation among the 
peoples will begin to grow again, and 
ultimately flower into active, fruitful, 
lasting Peace. 

To the peoples of the United States 
and the British Empire, who have been 
exceptionally blessed with the good 
things of life, I would make a special 
appeal. Let them exert themselves to 
the utmost in this great work of saving 
the wreckage of life and industry on 
the Continent of Europe. They have a 
great mission, and in fulfilling it they 
will be as much blessed as blessing. 

All this is possible, and I hope capable 
of accomplishment; but only on two 
conditions. 

In the first place, the Germans must 
convince our peoples of their good 
faith, of their complete sincerity 
through a real honest effort to fulfil 



their obligations under the Treaty to 
the extent of their ability. They will 
find the British people disposed to 
meet them halfway in their 
unexampled difficulties and 

perplexities. But any resort to subter- 
fuges or to underhand means to defeat 
or evade the Peace Treaty will only 
revive old suspicions and rouse anger 
and prove fatal to a good 
understanding. 

And in the second place, our Allied 
peoples must remember that God gave 
them overwhelming victory, victory 
far beyond their greatest dreams, not 
for small selfish ends, not for financial 
or economic advantages, but for the 
attainment of the great human ideals 
for which our heroes gave their lives, 
and which are the real victors in this 
war of ideals. 



At the Conference my father, as a 
personality, was possibly surpassed by 
Lloyd George alone. As an influence 
in the councils none surpassed him. 
Lloyd George had more faith in him 
than in any other member, and paid 
him this tribute: "He is one of the most 
remarkable personalities of his time. 
He is that fine blend of intellect and 
sympathy which constitutes the 
understanding man ... his sympathies 
were too broad to make him a mere 
fighting man... He had rare and fine 
gifts of mind and heart. Of his 
practical contributions to our councils 
during these trying years, it is difficult 
to speak too highly." 

Lloyd George's biographer, E. T. 
Raymond, tells us that the prime 
Minister "was particularly susceptible 
to the influence of the last speaker 
(Smuts), and from a talk with General 



Smuts he would go to a meeting of the 
'Big Four' with proposals which made 
M. Clemenceau wonder (sometimes 
aloud) whether the Allies were to ask 
Germany's pardon for having taken 
the liberty of beating her". 

Milner's admiration of him and 
confidence in him was greater than he 
felt for any of the others. Count Sforza 
described my father as, one of the rare 
original brains at the Peace 
Conference". 

The American journalist, I.F. Marcos- 
san, wrote in 1921, "in that gallery of 
treaty-makers ... it was Smuts who 
contributed largely to the mental 
power plant that drove the work... He 
saw the treaty as a new declaration of 
war instead of an antidote for discord. 
His judgment, sadly enough, has been 
confirmed." 



The English people loved him and 
accorded him an affection undimmed 
by party or politics. 

I myself am of opinion that this was 
one of the greatest constructive 
periods of his life. He accomplished 
greater things in the Second World 
War, and his standing in the affections 
of the peoples of the world attained a 
more exalted position; but he seldom 
worked so hard or so persistently and 
with such result as here in London and 
Paris. 

By the sweat of his brow he carved his 
niche among the immortal great. 



PART 3 

Uneasy Peace 



42 : Suffer Fools Gladly 

It is sometimes said that my father 
was not a man to suffer fools gladly. 
Though he did not always suffer them 
he almost invariably showed extra- 
ordinary kindness and patience with 
tedious people. He was not only a 
phenomenally busy person all his life, 
but also a harassed and lionised one. 
He had to put up a defensive facade 
and to turn people away in self- 
defence. Yet he was quite the most 
patient, approachable and long-suffer- 
ing person I have ever known. 

It is a strange thing, but I have noticed 
that many people in the presence of 
my father, either from fear or awe, lost 
the faculty of being able to make 
normal conversation. Even members 



of his family were prone to this 
nervousness. Personal contacts of this 
nature, in consequence, lost much of 
their attractiveness, and it is perhaps 
pardonable that my father should on 
occasion have been inwardly bored. 
To make up for embarrassment in the 
presence of greatness people either 
talked nonsense or asked interminable 
questions. 

The conversation of strangers with my 
father, however, usually took the form 
of questions and answers. Answers 
were naturally governed by whether he 
thought a serious answer worth while, 
whether it would be better to shift the 
emphasis on to some other aspect, 
whether he was desirous of changing 
the topic, what use was going to be 
made of his replies and whether a 
reply would serve a good purpose. 



As often as not he would be asked 
rhetorical questions. On such 
occasions he never argued but simply 
said "Yes", or "Perhaps" or made 
some non-committal remark. There 
was no point in arguing with well- 
meaning, but stupid, humanity. If they 
found satisfaction in their own 
particular views there was no point in 
disillusioning them. 

It was the pseudo-clever who really 
bored him. Their views he could not 
suffer gladly. A stupid person could be 
pardoned for stupidity; at least his 
views were elementary and human. 
Highly educated people should know 
better, and here one could not just say 
yes, politely, and leave it at that. 

So, the clever and the pseudo-clever 
he often avoided. We of the family 
learned to know his pet aversions, and 
though we could never fathom the 



source of incompatibility, we knew 
that we had to keep these people away 
from him. Many of them were famous 
men in public life, not only innocuous 
but really well meaning and friendly. 
My father often seemed to crystallise 
his likes and dislikes before meeting 
people. This was one of his most 
human weaknesses. I don't think he 
could explain it himself. He would 
vent his feelings by muttering vaguely 
"that damn fool" or "tiresome person" 
or "troublesome old woman" (applied 
to a man usually), or by just making 
irritable grunting noises and gestures. 
A cloud of displeasure would cross his 
brow. "Tell them I am not here," he 
would say curtly; and his protectors 
would then have to say that General 
Smuts was away on his bushveld farm 
or out on a long walk. Sometimes 
contact was unavoidable and he would 



then grow glum and uncommunicative 
- never really rude; but as time went 
on he would, as often as not, relent 
and probably end by being most 
charming. That was a case of kindness 
and generosity overcoming distinctly 
human feelings over which he had 
little control. 

It was noticeable, too, that he was 
more tolerant of women than of men, 
and more generous and forgiving. 
Perhaps it was because he considered 
them childlike; or maybe it was 
because he had a surfeit of seeing men 
and liked a change. But I think the real 
answer was that women were less 
nervous in his presence and more 
natural. At all events, women, with the 
exception of the really talkative 
society type, he suffered without 
demur, though not always with any 
real gladness. 



I must here emphasise the point that 
my father was quite the most 
disarmingly astute man I have ever 
come across. He had a mild, quiet way 
of talking or answering questions that 
was most soothing and satisfying, and 
one left with the feeling that the 
interview had been entirely 
satisfactory. Only afterwards, in the 
cool of night, when you came to 
analyse the interview, did you realise 
how confused your impressions were, 
and how little you had gleaned. In fact, 
you were often not quite aware of 
what the general impression had been 
at all. All you could remember was 
that he appeared to be talking sound 
logic and that you had agreed with 
him. 

The secret of all this was a mixture of 
disarming friendliness and astuteness. 
I sometimes found myself unable to 



break through his defences, but here I 
must emphasise that out of deference 
to my father we never pressed a point 
or tried to extract views from him. 
That would have been unfair and 
ungenerous. 

He exercised his mild, evasive 
technique by sheer force of 
personality, whether he was at a public 
meeting or on a commission. In the 
War Cabinet people had marvelled, 
and at San Francisco I saw how good- 
naturedly he twisted the polyglot 
medley of delegates of the various 
nations round his finger. It was a 
revelation to all privileged to see it. 

Knowing my father as well as I did, I 
would treat with considerable reserve 
statements attributed to him by 
interviewers. Many of them, from my 
personal knowledge, were wide of the 
mark and reflected more the views of 



those asking the question than my 
father's true opinions. This is so, too, 
of people who have written about him. 
I do not think they always understood 
his mood or his meaning. 



43 : Returns Home 

In August my father returned to South 
Africa. In less than a month General 
Botha was dead - killed at the age of 
fifty-eight no less by the bitter and 
unequal political struggle than by his 
illness. 

"He had no equal as a friend," said my 
father at his graveside. "We have 
worked together with a closeness 
seldom vouchsafed to friends. This 
entitles me to call him the greatest, 
cleanest, sweetest soul of all my days. 
Great in his lifetime, he was happy in 
his death. To his friend is left the bitter 
task of burying him and of defending 
his works, which were almost too 
heavy for him to perform." 

Henceforth my father was left to face 
the future alone. 



After the years overseas it is said that 
he found the decision to return to 
South Africa a hard one. In England he 
had lived in an atmosphere free of 
bitterness and personalities and had 
been able to accomplish prodigies of 
solid work. The people loved and 
admired him and great pressure was 
brought to bear on him to accept a 
Cabinet position and remain. There 
was talk of him as a successor to 
Lloyd George and of elevation to the 
peerage. There was the suggestion of a 
Vice-royalty of India or Governorship 
of Palestine. He was much drawn to 
tasks, such as the League, which he 
had not yet completed. He is quoted to 
have remarked that the decision to tear 
himself away from Britain was the 
"hardest" of his life. No doubt when 
he said that he had visions of the 



dreary front of political bitterness 
facing him in the Union. 

"The world was beginning, " he said, 
"and I had been present at its birth. 
There was the League - my thoughts 
were in it. To leave Europe in 1919, 
meant to give up any intimate share in 
working for these things - the New 
Order and the League. It meant 
coming to a land where too often my 
countrymen hated my ideas and 
despised my larger hopes..." 

It was an expression of wistfulness 
and no more. Perhaps it was just a 
generous comment on the wonderful 
way the British people had treated 
him. There was certainly no factual 
substance in the statement. He did not 
find it hard to make the decision, for 
he had, in fact, no decision to make. 
There was no question of his not 
returning to South Africa to carry on 



the incompleted labours there of half a 
life-time. His home, his family and all 
the familiar attachments of over fifty 
years were there. Also the brilliant 
sunshine and limitless spaces. Nothing 
could resist that ingrained call. 

He arrived in South Africa to run up 
against a solid phalanx of criticism 
and vituperation. The position had 
worsened during his absence and was 
now aggravated by the inevitable 
aftermath of the war. While loyal 
South Africans had been shedding 
their blood on the battlefields of the 
world Hertzog and the Nationalists 
had not been idle. They had been 
permitted almost unlimited latitude for 
subversiveness; now they boldly 
fastened their teeth in my father's 
person. The republican urge was 
running strongly, and feelings were 
high, as my father had predicted, over 



the unsatisfactory mandatory position 
of South-West Africa. South Africa, 
they clamoured, had vainly sacrificed 
her sons and treasure for that territory, 
and my father and the Imperialists had 
swindled her out of her rightful claim. 
It was no good arguing that he had 
done his best at the Peace Conference; 
would to heaven he had remained in 
England with his miserable Imperialist 
friends, they cried. 

My father returned to South Africa and 
to his farm Doornkloof. Here there 
were now many white men, all called 
"baas" or master by the native 
labourers. The time had come for dis- 
criminatory designation. In deference 
to his now grey hair, my father was 
called the "ou baas" or old master; so 
the name "Oubaas" gradually crept 
into conversation and received a 
broader use, coming to be used by 



black and white, by family and 
strangers alike. Friends still called him 
General or Oom Jannie to his face, but 
behind his back they spoke of him 
affectionately as the "Oubaas". As the 
years passed and feelings mellowed, it 
came to mean more than old master, 
for it was transformed into a distinct 
term of endearment and homage. We 
all used it. My father liked it. In one of 
my early visits to Chequers during the 
Second World War I spoke of him to 
Mr. Churchill as the "Old Man" - I 
could not very well use the 
unintelligible Afrikaans "Oubaas" nor 
could I say "Old Master". Mr. 
Churchill was clearly annoyed and 
upbraided me for lack of filial 
deference; I found it difficult to 
explain to him that I was merely 
making a far from disrespectful 
translation from the Afrikaans idiom. 



Needless to say, I never tried it in that 
quarter again! 



The policy of extracting reparations, as 
my father had warned, never worked. 
The more the Allies tried to extort 
payment from Germany the less co- 
operative she became, and the more 
good feelings deteriorated. France was 
proving specially insistent in exacting 
her pound of flesh. Germany was 
being driven into a sullen and resentful 
mood. Finally, in ill-conceived, 
exasperation, France occupied the rich 
Ruhr area in January, 1923. This preci- 
pitate action startled the world, and the 
Germans in the occupied territory 
decided on a damaging go-slow work 
policy. 

Bernard Baruch, of the United States, 
supported by Woodrow Wilson, 



wanted to enforce demands for 
payment upon Germany. Baruch 
solicited my father's support. He 
cabled: "Your voice is one of high 
authority because your motives are 
unquestioned and your character and 
attainments eminent in your time. If 
anyone can bring about a realisation of 
the facts it is you ...". This brought 
forth a retort from my father which 
must have startled Baruch. 

Four or five years ago [he declared] 
we were singing our own songs of 
victory. Today we are all marching to 
certain and inevitable defeat - victor 
and vanquished alike. The 
international chaos is growing. The 
economic and industrial structure of 
Europe is cracking in all directions... 
Military hysteria is sapping their 
depleted financial resources. 

Everywhere you see armed men, 



everywhere gigantic armies, even 
among the small new States which 
cannot possibly afford them. 
Famine for large numbers is not far 
off... 

I call for a gallant attempt now to save 
Europe from the dangers that 
threaten... The time has come for the 
convocation of a great conference of 
the Powers who are mainly interested 
in the Reparation question... The 
United States should be there as an 
active member and bear her full 
weight... 

... It is now universally recognised that 
this amount fixed by the Reparations 
Commission in May, 1921 
(£6,600,000,000) was too high and 
could not be paid... The amount has to 
be reduced to a reasonable figure... 



Unless the Reparation issue is speedily 
got out of the way, Europe may soon 
be faced with a situation in which the 
Reparation issue will be swallowed up 
and disappear in far more grave 
issues... 

The British people will no doubt be 
invited to share in the sports of the 
Ruhr... My advice is to have nothing 
to do with the Ruhr... We should make 
it perfectly clear, in friendly but 
unmistakable language, that in certain 
circumstances this country (Britain) 
will have regard to its own interests 
and take whatever steps necessary to 
that end... There is a serious danger 
lest a policy of excessive generosity on 
our part, or on the part of America, 
may simply enable France still more 
effectively to subsidise and foster 
militarism on the Continent. 



I sympathise with France. But I am 
equally moved by profound pity for 
Europe. Let France in the day of her 
victory and greatness not forget her 
noble historic mission as the great 
bearer of liberal tradition in Europe... 

The Liberals in England were 
delighted. "If we had at the head of 
affairs in England today a statesman of 
the moral and intellectual calibre of 
General Smuts the European outlook 
would be transformed." The 
Conservatives were not so well 
pleased and laid the blame at the feet 
of Germany for "defaulting even to the 
length of ruining her own currency". 
France was furious. 

By 1931 not only had Germany 
persistently defaulted, but even Britain 
herself, and the other powers, were 
falling in their payments to the United 



States. South Africa alone of all 
countries paid off her war debt in full. 

It is interesting to note, as Mr. 
Churchill points out, that while 
reparations were being dragged out of 
a reluctant Germany, Britain and the 
United States found it incumbent to 
assist her with considerable loans. 
Thus while the Allies extracted only 
about a thousand million pounds from 
Germany, they actually put into her an 
amount exceeding that figure by two 
thousand million pounds. There can be 
no more damning evidence against the 
policy of reparations. 



44 : Political Troubles 

Now that General Botha was gone 
there was more work than ever for my 
father to do. Botha's loss was more 
than that of a friend of twenty years' 
standing, or of a wise and soothing 
counsellor. It was the loss of an 
important bridge between the 
Government and the conservative 
masses of Afrikanderdom. 

My father wasted no time with 
formalities. At forty-nine he was still 
in the fullest flush of physical vigour. 
He galvanised his ministers, by a little 
necessary prodding, into a spate of 
greater activity, and thereafter ruled 
them with an almost undemocratic 
firmness. He found it the best way of 
getting work out of them. 

The effect of his return to the Union 
did not take long to make itself felt, 



"The new Smuts", it was remarked, 
"was more than the head of the 
Government. He was the Government. 
He was the Cabinet - all the 
departments of the state - the party 
caucus - the civil service - the Army 
- Parliament." Much as the 
Nationalists fumed and ranted, they 
had grudgingly to admit that the 
personality of this man controlled the 
destiny of the country. Though he had 
not come back with South-West Africa 
in his pocket, he had come back with 
something near it. He had considered 
the annexation of the Belgian Congo 
and Portuguese East Africa with such 
seriousness that strongly-worded 
protests followed from the two 
governments. The question of incor- 
poration of Southern Rhodesia was 
also revolving in his mind. There was 



much to be said for it - and, beyond 
prejudice, little against it. 

He tried to counsel his opponents at 
home into more constructive channels 
of reasoning by suggesting that they 
would do better to concentrate on the 
present and future than everlastingly 
casting back their memories to the 
past. "It is dangerous: it paralyses a 
people to live in the past." 

On the 10th March, 1920, there was a 
general election. The results were 
disturbing. The Nationalists headed 
the poll with forty-four seats. They 
had taken eleven rural constituencies 
from my father and were ten thousand 
votes and three elected members 
ahead. Under Creswell, Labour staged 
a come-back by winning twenty-one 
seats, and the Unionists secured 
twenty-five. My father's only course 
was to seek Unionist assistance. "Now 



that the National Party is firmly 
resolved", he said, "to continue the 
propaganda of fanning the fires of 
secession and of driving the European 
races apart from each other, the 
moderate elements of our population 
have no other alternative than to draw 
closer to one another in order to fight 
that policy. A new appeal must, 
therefore, be made to all right-minded 
South Africans, irrespective of party or 
race, to join the new party, which will 
be strong enough to safeguard the 
permanent interests of the Union 
against the disruptive and destructive 
policy of the Nationalists." 

Sir Thomas Smartt and the Unionists, 
in a spirit of great generosity; 
responded to my father's appeal for 
assistance. It was not to be a case of 
coalition for the Unionists, but of 
actually giving up their identity in this 



merger with the South African Party. 
The Nationalists jeeringly said that my 
father had now definitely allowed 
himself to be swallowed up by the 
Rand capitalists. 

With Parliament in such a precarious 
position he had to tread warily, to do a 
lot of adjusting of differences and of 
pleading, and to forestall dangerous 
Opposition manoeuvres. It was a busy 
and exciting time. One division was 
carried by a majority of only two 
votes. But not once during the long 
session did he allow a decisive 
division to materialise. In a world of 
fluid events he was playing for time. 

But at the end of the Session in July, 
despite all efforts, the position was as 
menacing as ever. 

The impasse had to be broken. This 
was achieved by calling the electorate 



to the polls again, early in 1921, after a 
lightning campaign. In the few 
intervening months there had been a 
marked change for the better, when 
stories of Russian atrocities and the 
corruption of the Bolshevik regime 
began to filter through. There was a 
marked swing away from General 
Hertzog because of his wooing of the 
Reds. My father got seventy-nine 
seats, Hertzog forty-five and Labour 
succeeded in winning only nine, even 
Colonel Creswell losing his seat. The 
South African Party now had a safe 
majority of twenty-four in the House. 
Three Unionist ministers were brought 
into the Cabinet. Sir Thomas Smartt 
became Minister of Agriculture, a 
position he filled with distinction; 
J.W. Jagger accomplished wonders 
with the Railways; and Patrick 
Duncan, one-time chief secretary to 



Milner, took over the portfolio of the 
Interior. 

My father himself held the portfolios 
of Defence and Native Affairs, in 
addition to being Prime Minister. 

In South Africa conditions were daily 
growing more difficult and the 
political situation more boisterous. 
The financial position of the 
Government was embarrassing, and 
the resulting increases in taxation and 
retrenchment were answers to 
Hertzog's prayers. In the rural areas 
the Nationalists vehemently 

denounced the Government as 
Imperialists, while in the towns they 
sympathised with the public because 
of the unbearable burdens of taxation 
and poor handling of the financial 
position: My father was personally 
blamed for the economic illness of the 
country. 



By now it was becoming plain that the 
Nationalists were wooing Labour, an 
act inspired by Tielman Roos, their 
leader in the Transvaal. The object of 
all the Nationalist efforts was to unseat 
my father. No trouble was too great, 
no device too low. They spared neither 
effort nor decency. Personal 
vituperation became their accepted 
order of the day. Labour at the time 
seemed to understand this type of talk; 
it was still in its wild and woolly days. 
Moreover, the agitators of foreign 
countries were abroad, sowing the 
poisonous Red doctrines of Trotsky. 

In 1919 there were native strikes in 
Johannesburg, Pretoria and 

Bloemfontein. A year later, mine 
natives on the Rand struck for more 
pay. My father drove them back 
unceremoniously. In Port Elizabeth a 
crowd gathered before the local gaol to 



protest against the imprisonment of 
their Native Labour Union leader. 
When the fire hoses were turned on 
them they retaliated with sticks and 
stones. A stray shot started a panic, 
after which the police opened fire; 
there were six European and sixty- 
eight native casualties. The country 
was shocked. My father had to 
shoulder the blame. 

Soon there was an even more serious 
clash with natives at Bulhoek near 
Queenstown. The followers of Enoch, 
the high priest of a religious sect, 
camped as usual during their festival 
on some Crown Land. When it was 
over they refused to move. They 
refused to leave at the behest of a 
posse of police; only God was their 
Master. The Government decided on 
action. Colonel Truter with a strong 
force of police was sent to disperse 



them. The Israelites, with God on their 
side, charged down on the repre- 
sentatives of the law with assegais, 
shouting "The hour for the black man 
is at hand!" At thirty yards the police 
opened fire. There were close on three 
hundred native casualties. 

Though the Nationalists cared little for 
the loss of native lives, Hertzog 
attacked my father violently for the 
incident. There was some defection 
from the ranks of the South African 
Party. Some .said my father had been 
too slow in action, that he should have 
stepped in earlier. 

While this storm was on, he had to 
leave for an Imperial Conference in 
London in June. It was a rushed visit. 
He concentrated on the problem of 
Japan and the Pacific, which he 
declared were "the world problems of 



the next fifty years. There Europe and 
Asia and America meet... 

"If we look to world peace, we must 
do nothing to alienate Japan... The 
only path of safety for the British 
Empire is a path which she can walk 
together with America. In a certain 
number of years we shall be in a great 
crisis in Europe, and not all the time in 
a position of independence, but 
involved with France and all the 
odium which her policy may bring 
upon us, and not really strong and 
independent to act according to our 
interests. That is why I am looking 
more and more in other directions - 
that is, to America." 

During this visit, while he was 
spending a quiet week-end with the 
Gilletts at Oxford, where he had 
attended a Rhodes dinner, the King 
sent for him. His Majesty was 



preoccupied with the problem of 
opening the Ulster Parliament and 
wanted advice about the opening 
address. My father assured him that it 
was a wonderful opportunity for some 
quiet elaborating on the Com- 
monwealth theme. Though the official 
speech drafted for the King was a 
"blood-thirsty document", His Majesty 
was so impressed with my father's 
conciliatory ideas that he asked him to 
jot down headings for a draft speech. 
So that evening my father drafted a 
speech which he handed to the King. 

Next day Lloyd George invited my 
father to a special Cabinet meeting to 
consider the King's speech. The draft 
produced there, though nobody knew 
it, was a typed copy of the one my 
father had written out the evening 
before. After discussion, it was passed 
with minor modifications. The results 



were historic, and the tone a pattern 
for Britain's future relations. 

Next Tom Casement called on my 
father in London with an invitation 
from de Valera and other leaders to 
meet them in Ireland. De Valera was 
obsessed with the problems of 
Northern Ireland and of neutrality. Sir 
Horace Plunkett wrote to my father: 
"From my pretty full knowledge of my 
countrymen at home and abroad I can 
truthfully say that no living statesman 
would be more acceptable to the 
majority of the Irish people as a 
political adviser than yourself." He 
sent an invitation for an informal 
meeting at his home. When told about 
it, "Lloyd George", my father said, 
"was delighted. He said it was the very 
thing to follow the King's speech, and 
also, he said, I was the very man to do 
the job - no Englishman, an outsider, a 



Boer." As an outsider and Boer, he 
went, not as a representative of the 
British Government. "No one else 
knew. Not another member of the 
Cabinet. We kept it an absolute 
secret." He went as Mr. Smith. At 
Kingstown he slipped unnoticed from 
the ship and took a taxi to Dublin. The 
driver protested about dangers ahead, 
but my father said cheerfully "carry 
on". 

In Dublin he joined De Valera, 
Erskine Childers, Arthur Griffith and 
others. He was glad to see Griffith 
there, for he had been a journalist in 
Johannesburg before the Boer War and 
would be able to confirm what my 
father said. My father took the line that 
it was pointless to go on with the 
rebellion. It would get them nowhere 
and England was bound sooner or later 
to crush it. No one would come to 



their help. He referred to the King's 
speech saying it was obvious that 
England would welcome a settlement. 
They wanted a republic, they said. 
England would want facilities for her 
Navy, my father said. They quite 
understood that. 

He told them the story of the South 
African Republic and how their vain 
struggles led almost to their 
annihilation. But later they were saved 
and regained their complete 
independence under the new 
Dominion Status. He described the 
virtues of this new status in glowing 
terms. "Make no mistake about it; you 
have more privilege, more power, 
more peace, more security in such a 
sisterhood of equal nations than in a 
small, nervous republic having all the 
time to rely on goodwill, and perhaps 
the assistance, of foreigners. 



"I asked them if they would agree to 
an immediate armistice with the 
military now in Ireland, and a 
conference with the British 
Government... They agreed before I 
left." 

Before my father left London De 
Valera, and later a mission, came to 
discuss details. My father put on 
record his ideas for Dominion status 
for Ireland before returning to the 
turmoil of South Africa. "I pray God 
that you may be wisely guided and 
that peace may now be concluded 
before tempers again change and 
perhaps another generation of strife 
ensues." 

If the effort transpired to be a partial 
failure to some, my father was not a 
party to such a view. "It has not been a 
failure, and in the end I feel persuaded 



success will come to the movement 
that has been set going." 

The armistice came in the nick of time, 
for a massacre was narrowly averted. 
A large number of gunmen had been 
detailed to shoot down, at an 
appointed time, all uniformed people 
and British agents in Dublin. 



45 : The Great Strike 

As my father disembarked at Cape 
Town the unemployed booed him; the 
Nationalists cried that he had brought 
the country to the verge of ruin. He 
had been gallivanting in Britain and 
neglecting his own country. 
Deputations of every nature flocked to 
see him. All came with grievances. All 
sought assistance. There were ominous 
rumblings on the goldfields. 

By 1922 the mines were in straits. 
Miners' wages stood at a high level, 
while high-grade ore was running out 
and working costs were mounting. The 
industry had to rectify the position, if 
it was to survive. It was also set on 
breaking, once and for all, the 
stranglehold of the Trade Unions. At 
the same time there were disturbing 
signs of an impending slump. 



The actual trouble arose over the terms 
of the September Agreement, which 
laid down that whites would not be 
replaced by blacks and that the present 
ratio of Europeans to natives would be 
maintained. Economic conditions 
necessitated a deviation. The Trade 
Unions were confident of their power 
to break the Chamber of Mines. 

On January 1st, 1922, wages on coal 
mines were reduced by five shillings 
per shift and the miners went on strike. 
The mine owners flatly refused to take 
the dispute to arbitration. A few days 
later the status quo on the colour bar 
was abrogated on the gold mines, and 
twenty thousand miners went on 
strike. All attempts at arbitration were 
bluntiy refused. The great struggle 
between the magnates and the miners 
was on. 



My father looked upon this as a 
domestic affair and refused to 
intervene. Apart from his democratic 
outlook on the rights of individuals, he 
had other reasons for refusing. It was 
clear to him that a real show-down 
was imperative to break the present 
impasse. Those who attribute his 
tardiness in taking control to 
indecision and dilatoriness, would do 
well to bear this in mind. Half 
measures at this stage would not have 
succeeded decisively in bringing Trade 
Unionism to its senses. 

The strikers said that my father was a 
"paid agent of the Chamber of Mines". 
The Chamber itself was hardly more 
complimentary. This was no surprise 
to my father, who said the Chamber 
was always quick to run to the 
Government for help but slow in doing 
anything for itself: He had begged 



them for years (and he went on doing 
so for another twenty years) to take a 
more intelligent interest in their 
political welfare and to do something 
by way of influencing their workmen, 
by propaganda methods, to a more 
amenable attitude of mind. The 
magnates' answer was always the 
same. They were not prepared to 
meddle in "politics". So obsessed were 
they in their fear of the body politic 
that they complacently allowed the 
Mine Workers' Union and Dr. Albert 
Hertzog to move in with that same 
weapon and to undermine the industry 
from one end to the other. 

By now the strikers had marshalled 
themselves into commandos and were 
patrolling the mines to ward off 
"scabs" from slinking back to work. 
There were frequent clashes with the 
police; there were other more 



disturbing incidents, and feelings were 
mounting. My father advised the 
miners to return to work - on the 
terms of the Chamber. This shattered 
the last hopes of an amicable 
settlement. 

Disturbances were now occurring all 
over the Rand. On February 27th there 
was a clash outside the Boksburg gaol, 
and three strikers were shot by the 
police in Parliament, Tielman Roos 
demanded an instant enquiry. My 
father turned down the suggestion 
flatly: "I think we shall allow things to 
develop," he said. They developed 
swiftly. On 4th March the Chamber 
refused a request from the Industrial 
Federation for a round-table con- 
ference. After that the tempo of events 
became too much for the leaders of the 
Industrial Federation to control, and 
they made way for a group of five 



revolutionaries who called themselves 
the Council of Action. Under these the 
strike soon assumed grave proportions, 
and striker commandos were active all 
over the Reef. Their trail was marked 
by violence and even murder. Mine 
officials and some natives were 
clubbed or shot in cold blood. There 
were acts of pagan brutality. 

Up to this stage my father had let 
matters develop. Now he took swift 
action. All available police were called 
up and Active Citizen Force 
commandos were mobilised. Martial 
law was proclaimed. 

During the earlier phases of the strike 
my father remained at his office in 
Pretoria. I remember these times 
vividly. Threats on his life were 
pouring in by every post. Once more 
he was the focal point of all hatred. 
Our home at Irene was turned into a 



small fortress, with police guards, 
bloodhounds and machine-gun posts. 
The security authorities were well 
prepared. A wild peach tree now 
grows in a derelict machine-gun pit on 
the bend in the road near the white 
gates at Doornkloof. 

When my father eventually decided to 
go down to Parliament in Cape Town, 
for security reasons he took with him 
my mother, my sister Louis and 
myself. The other children were safely 
at boarding school. We went in a 
special train consisting of two coaches 
and two trucks with our cars. The 
journey took twenty-seven hours 
which was a record that stood for 
many years. There were many 
unavoidable delays at stations, but 
when we moved we travelled at great 
speed. At one station, marks on the 
ground showed that part of the train 



had left the tracks, only to be deflected 
back a little farther along by a guard 
rail. 

My father's business with Parliament 
was brief in declaring martial law he 
said, "The Government was very 
reluctant to declare martial law, 
knowing the temper of the people and 
that in the end there would be serious 
bloodshed ... the choice had been 
taken away from the Government. 
This morning from practically one side 
of the Reef to the other the 
commandos attacked, and fighting has 
been going on over a large part of the 
Rand, and is still going on, and there 
have been heavy casualties... All 
essential services have been brought to 
a standstill, and from one end of the 
Reef to the other the natives are in a 
state of wild turmoil..." 



Having completed his business he 
prepared to return to Johannesburg. He 
took with him his party secretary 
Louis Esselen and Hodgson, his 
chauffeur, and his car. At Potchef- 
stroom Esselen tried to persuade him 
to leave the train and proceed by car, 
as it was not certain that the line ahead 
had not been blown up. My father 
would not hear of it. Finally, after 
Esselen had exhorted him repeatedly 
to "reconsider" the matter, my father, 
who appeared to be listening atten- 
tively, said suddenly: "Louis, I have 
thought it out carefully and I am now 
absolutely convinced that we need six 
more bulls for Rooikop." 18 Louis was 
beaten. 

They left the train near Randfontein, 
untrucked the Cadillac, and Hodgson 



' His bushveld farm. 



drove them in to Johannesburg where 
they made for headquarters at the Drill 
Hall. Frequently they came under 
heavy rifle fire. Hodgson drove 
furiously. They had rifles with them in 
the car. Louis Esselen returned the fire 
for all he was worth. In his excitement 
he said to my father, "Shoot, Oom 
Jannie, shoot!" But my father just sat 
impassively. Later on a striker's bullet 
punctured the back tyre and a little 
farther on they pulled up to change the 
wheel. Then my father said to Esselen: 
"You have kept on telling me to shoot, 
now how many bullets have you left?" 
Oom Louis replied that he had used up 
all his. "A fine fix we might now be 
in," my father retorted, "if I had also 
used up all my ammunition." 

It appears that during the shooting one 
of the occupants ducked low behind 
the bodywork for shelter. Though this 



seemed to me a wise precaution, my 
father spoke very scornfully of it. He 
was, as has so often been repeated, a 
man without physical fear. I am 
uncertain whether it was a vice or a 
virtue. 

Louis Esselen was like his uncle 
Ewald, a great friend of any father's 
and the family. He was a person of 
very cheerful disposition and was on 
intimate terms with friend and foe 
alike. Consequently, as a source of 
contact and listening post, he was 
invaluable. But to say that he was a 
"backroom boy" whose advice swayed 
my father's judgment would be an 
over-statement. My father took advice 
from nobody. He always listened 
carefully, but preferred to make his 
own assessments and decisions. Louis 
Esselen fared no better than others in 
his efforts to sway my father. It was 



Louis, in himself, who was such an 
asset to the Party. 

Once in the Drill Hall that evening my 
father listened briefly to the latest 
reports and then set briskly about 
counter-measures. Everything was in a 
state of chaos. The police were thinly 
scattered over the Reef guarding mine 
shafts and crucial points, but beyond 
this the strikers were in possession of 
practically the whole Rand. 
Government troops had been timidly 
and poorly handled and had suffered 
heavy casualties. By dawn his plans 
had been put into operation. The 
crackle of heavy rifle fire was plainly 
audible from all directions. Troops 
everywhere had gone into action. The 
strikers were swiftly driven out of 
their strongholds along the ridges at 
Brixton and Langlaagte and from the 
Reef towns of Benoni and Boksburg. 



Sniping and dirty methods of fighting 
took a heavy toll of Government 
troops, but they pushed on briskly. In 
Fordsburg, not far from the heart of 
the city, the strikers made their last 
stand. Aircraft dropped on the 
insurgents warning pamphlets and an 
ultimatum. At 11 a.m. artillery opened 
a bombardment of the strikers' 
headquarters. At noon the white flag 
was run up. It was all over. Two of the 
extremist leaders, Fischer and Spendiff 
committed suicide. 

In the course of a few days my father 
had quelled this full-blooded 
revolution. Once he had assumed 
personal command matters sped to a 
swift conclusion. Once more he had 
revealed his brilliance as a military 
tactician. In all other respects, 
however, the strike was a disaster of 
the first magnitude for the 



Government, and it drove Labour 
straight into the arms of Hertzog. It 
had also engendered a bitterness of 
feeling that was eventually to drive my 
lather's party from power. 

The general feeling was that he had 
delayed too long before taking drastic 
measures. For myself, I keep an open 
mind on the matter. As a long-term 
policy, however, it has paid ample 
dividends, for it served to break and 
crush the too-powerful Mine Workers' 
Union and cleared the atmosphere, in 
difficult times, for a fresh start by the 
mines. It also taught the miners a 
salutary, if bloody, lesson which they 
have not yet forgotten, and put a fear 
of strikes into them. So much so, that 
though the workers of the industry are 
preponderantly Nationalist, they made 
no attempt to hold up my father's war 
effort during the Second World War. I 



think, therefore, that his handling of 
the strike has been justified by the test 
of time. 

But unfortunately time and popularity 
do not necessarily go together. 

The mines, which were in dire straits 
before the revolt, turned into 
flourishing concerns within a few 
months of the conclusion of the 
trouble. Some dividends improved by 
over a hundred per cent. 

In lives the cost had been heavy, being 
double that of the South- West African 
campaign. There had been 535 
European and 152 native casualties. 

My father knew he would suffer, for 
the spilling of blood by a politician is 
always a mortal sin. He returned to 
Parliament. His first action was to ask 
the House to indemnify the Govern- 
ment. The Nationalists howled and 



jeered. All this expense and bloodshed 
could have been avoided, they 
shouted, had my father chosen it. 
Hertzog opposed the motion with a 
characteristic speech. He paraded my 
father's long sequence of bloody 
events from the 1913 strike to the 
present one, ending on a high shriek- 
ing note: "The Prime Minister's foot- 
steps drip with blood! His footsteps go 
down history in that manner!" In ten 
years my father had declared martial 
law three times, and on each occasion 
Parliament had been asked to 
indemnify the Government. 

For three full days derision and scorn 
were poured upon him. He sat silent 
and impassive. 

After the strike several strikers were 
executed for murder. The two 
Hanekom brothers were shot out of 
hand when caught sniping red-handed. 



Stassen was hanged for killing two 
natives. There was a considerable 
delay in carrying out Stassen's 
sentence, and as in the case of Jopie 
Fourie, the Opposition made the best 
of the position. A white man hanged 
for the murder of natives! It outraged 
the feeling of the negrophobes. 

A commission of enquiry also 
revealed how deeply implicated the 
Nationalist Party had been in the 
strike. It had, in fact, hoped to turn it 
into something akin to a rebellion, 
with Free State and Western Transvaal 
burghers coming to assist the strikers. 
It had also done its best to fan the fires 
of discontent in order to bring 
additional hatred to bear on the 
Government. Hertzog, as before in the 
rebellion, steered clear of personal 
implication, but he can certainly be 
said to have been a very interested 



spectator. There was also strong 
evidence of a Red hand. 

My father was fated to be born into a 
turbulent period of history. South 
Africa can thank God he was there to 
cope with events. Hardly had the 
shouting over the Johannesburg strike 
died down when there was fresh 
serious trouble. This time it was in 
South-West Africa. The Bondelswarts, 
a mixed Hottentot race of the 
Warmbad district, refused to pay a 
certain tax and were openly defiant. 
After persuasion had failed, they were 
briskly bombed into submission by 
aircraft, a small number being killed in 
the process. 

Serious charges were made against the 
authorities concerned, and later the 
Permanent Mandates Commission of 
the League declined to accept the 
Administrator's version of the incident 



and demanded a more authoritative 
account of the operations. Though they 
accepted this, and a reassurance and 
explanation by my father, the 
Bondelswarts affair nevertheless left a 
bad taste. Britain later adopted a 
similar punitive bombing technique in 
the Middle East against Arab rebels 
and on the North-West Frontiers of 
India against the wild tribesmen. It 
proved effective in result and light in 
casualties. 

In Parliament, the Bondelswarts affair 
was fought bitterly all over again. As 
before the trouble was all laid at my 
father's door. 




Groote Schuur, official residence of Union Prime Ministers, Cape Town. 



46 : Groote Schuur 

In the seventeenth century the Dutch 
East India Company built three 
granaries on the slopes of Devil's Peak 
above Rondebosch, a few miles out- 
side Cape Town. One of these was 
known as de Groote Schuur or Big 
Barn. Groote Schuur frequently chang- 
ed hands and was rebuilt many times. 
In 1893 Cecil Rhodes bought it and 
considerable areas of surrounding land 
from a Mrs, A.J. van der Byl of 
"Fairfield", Caledon. 

Rhodes had met Herbert Baker, the 
architect, a year previously and had 
been fascinated by the young man's 
idealism; so he commissioned him to 
remodel Groote Schuur and to collect 
antique furniture. In 1896 the thatched 
roof caught alight and the house 
burned down with all its old furniture, 
glassware, silver, books and manu- 



scripts. Little was saved. Whereupon 
Baker designed a new Groote Schuur, 
slightly bigger, but conforming gene- 
rally to the old foundations. Once 
more it was stocked with valuable 
furniture and relics. 

The style was old Cape Dutch, with 
the characteristic curved gables and 
twisted chimneys. The windows were 
teak-shuttered and the doors and all 
other woodwork heavy and massive. 
The front of the house looked out upon 
terraced lawns and ancient oaks. The 
view was pleasant but restricted. Baker 
did not like it. He had begged Rhodes 
to build the house a few hundred yards 
farther up the slopes, directly above 
the impressive hydrangea crescent. For 
sentimental reasons Rhodes wanted it 
on the site of the former granary. 

As an architectural conception Groote 
Schuur is beautiful. But as a house to 



live in it left much to be desired. It 
was more a museum than a home. The 
heavily-panelled walls and beamed 
ceilings gave it a dark and gloomy 
atmosphere. It lacked warmth. With its 
twelve bedrooms and many other halls 
and chambers it was a large house. A 
long marble verandah ran along the 
back, which was warm and sunny in 
the afternoons and looked upon the 
mountains. Rhodes' s bedroom, togeth- 
er with the others, was on the upper 
floor. His had a lovely view on to the 
wooded slopes of Table Mountain and 
Devil's Peak, but most of the other 
bedrooms faced forward on Ronde- 
bosch, and did not enjoy the enchant- 
ment. 

Everywhere were massive chests and 
on the verandah stood huge green 
vases. The dining-room was adorned 
with two Gobelin tapestries. Two 



more were presented to my father 
during, the Second World War to 
complete the set. One of these he gave 
to Libertas, the official residence of 
the Prime Ministers in Pretoria, the 
second now hangs with the others in 
Groote Schuur. 

In his will Rhodes bequeathed Groote 
Schuur to the Prime Ministers of the 
United South Africa, a dream that was 
at the time still eight years distant. 
General Botha was the first to occupy 
the house. My father took over in 1919 
when he became Premier, and during 
the parliamentary sessions he used to 
live there. The rest of the family came 
down in relays to keep him company, 
for we always considered Irene as our 
home. 

My mother did not like the place, with 
its darkness and heavy atmosphere. 
But we as children enjoyed its vast 



spaces. My father appreciated its 
privacy and its wonderful views of the 
mountains. He took a small, plain 
bedroom for himself looking out on 
Devil's Peak. He liked it in summer, 
but in winter the heavy drip-drip of the 
rain from the enveloping oaks 
depressed him. 

In Rhodes' s den, called the Smoking 
Room, are about three hundred books, 
many typed and bound in red leather. 
This collection never failed to amuse 
my father. It appears that Gibbon had 
been a great favourite of Rhodes, and 
so he gave Hatchard of London 
instructions to translate all the authori- 
ties used in the Decline and Fall. Half 
the books consisted of these typed 
translated volumes which cost Rhodes 
£8,000. The works were already 
available in translations, my father 



said, and in his ignorance Rhodes was 
simply wasting his money. 

In May, 1923, my father scrambled 
briskly up Skeleton Ravine to the 
summit of Table Mountain, where he 
unveiled a memorial at Maclear's 
Beacon to those who fell in the First 
World War. He was in a buoyant 
mood, as he always was on the moun- 
tain tops, with the distant panoramas 
stretching away into the hazy hinter- 
land and the mists swirling in the crags 
below, and the crisp air of the lofty 
spaces fanning the heated brow. Here, 
to a group of hardy climbers squatted 
on the grey rocks around him, he 
delivered the greatest and most 
inspired oration of his life. It has been 
compared to Lincoln's oration at 
Gettysburg. I shall quote this speech 
fully. It came to be known as the 
"Spirit of the Mountains". 




Mountaineer Smuts on Table Mountain, overlooking Cape Town - 1940. 



Those whose memory we honour 
today lie buried on the battlefields of 
the Great War, where they fell. But 
this is undoubtedly the place to 
commemorate them. 

Nothing could be more fitting and 
appropriate than this memorial which 
the Mountain Club of South Africa 
erected to the memory of their 
members who fell in the Great War. 
And this, the highest point on Table 
Mountain, is the place to put the 
memorial. The sons of the cities are 
remembered and recorded in the 
streets and squares of their cities and 
by memorials placed in their churches 
and cathedrals. But the mountaineers 
deserve a loftier pedestal and a more 
appropriate memorial. To them the 
true church where they worshipped 
was Table Mountain. Table Mountain 
was their cathedral where they heard a 



subtler music and saw wider visions 
and were inspired with a loftier spirit. 

Here in life they breathed the great air; 
here in death their memory will fill the 
upper spaces. And it is fitting that in 
this cathedral of Table Mountain the 
lasting memorial of their great 
sacrifice should be placed. Not down 
there in the glowing and rich plains, 
but up here on the bleak and cold 
mountain tops. As Browning put it: 

Here, here's their place, 
Where meteors shoot, 
Clouds form, 
Lightning's are loosened, 
Stars come and go. 

Here for a thousand years their 
memory shall blend with these great 
rock masses and humanise them. The 
men and women of the coming 
centuries, who will in ever-increasing 



numbers seek health and inspiration on 
this great mountain summit, will find 
here not only the spirit of Nature, but 
also the spirit of man blending with it, 
the spirit of joy in Nature deepened 
and intensified by the memory of the 
great sacrifice here recorded. 

Geologists tell us that in the abyss of 
time Table Mountain was much more 
of a mountain than it is today. Then it 
was more than 18,000 feet high, of 
which barely one-fifth remains today. 
And in another million years no trace 
may be left of it. Here there is no 
abiding city, neither is there an abiding 
mountain. Human life itself may be 
but a passing phase of the history of 
this great globe. But as long as human 
memory lasts, as long as men and 
women will remember and be 
interested in the history of their storied 
past, so long the Great War - perhaps 



the greatest in human history - will be 
remembered, and the memory of the 
great sacrifice here recorded will 
endure as part of it. 

Standing here today as we do on the 
summit of Table Mountain, may I add 
a few words in reference to the spirit 
of the place? 

The attraction of the mountains for us 
points to something very significant 
and deep in our natures. May I 
illustrate the matter by a little story 
which is not quite true, but neither is it 
entirely mythical, aa it finds some 
support in the testimony of science. 

Once upon a time, in the far-off 
beginning of things, the ancestors of 
the present human race lived far down 
in deep blue pools of the ocean, amid 
the slimy ooze from which they had 
themselves sprung. There they lived 



and developed a long time, and in the 
sounds of the sea, in the rhythm of the 
waters, and of the rising and falling 
tides they learnt that sense of music 
which is so mysterious a faculty in us, 
and which is in a much smaller degree 
shared by so many marine animals. 

The music in a sea shell pressed to our 
ears carries us back to the very 
beginnings of life on this planet. It is a 
far-off echo of our most ancient 
experience as living things. As our 
ancestors thrived and developed they 
gradually found the pressure of the 
waters too much for them. They felt 
stifled and longed for more freedom to 
breathe. And so they rose slowly on to 
the beaches, and finally emerged into 
the air on the seashore. What a blessed 
relief was there, what an unconscious 
sense of lightness and exaltation! No 
longer submerged in the stifling 



depths, but with full lungs expanding 
in the invigorating air. The rising from 
the sea was the most glorious advance 
in the forward march of terrestrial life. 
But it was not enough. 

The same process of development and 
advance continued on the seashore. In 
the course of time the heavy air of the 
sea levels became too much for the 
ever-forward movement of the forms 
of life. The pressure on the lungs was 
too great, and the forward movement 
seemed to be arrested in a sort of 
atmospheric morass, in which a great 
heaviness hung, on the spirit of life. At 
this stage a new great advance was 
registered. The rise to higher levels 
took place. Some animals developed 
wings with which they could fly 
upward and for longer or shorter 
periods remain in the high places and 
breathe a keener air. And in this rise 



they shook off their ancient 
sluggishness and lethargy, and 
developed a spirit of joy which had 
hitherto been unknown to them. The 
skylark, rising in an ecstasy of song 
high up into the air, is an illustration of 
the new great advance. 

Other forms of life developed other 
means of locomotion and of ascent 
from the heavy low levels. As the dull, 
deadweight was removed from the 
lungs a new sense of lightness, of 
progress, of joy and gladness dawned 
on the ever higher rising forms of life. 
The great relief was not only of a 
physical character, but had the most 
far-reaching and spiritual values. And 
so it has come about that finally in 
man all mortal and spiritual values are 
expressed in terms of altitude. The low 
expresses degradation, both physical 
and moral. If we wish to express great 



intellectual or moral or spiritual 
attainments we use the language of the 
altitudes. We speak of men who have 
risen, of aims and ideals that are lofty, 
we place the seat of our highest 
religious ideals in high heaven, and we 
consign all that is morally base to 
nethermost hell. Thus the metaphors 
embedded in language reflect but the 
realities of the progress of terrestrial 
life. 

The Mountain is not merely something 
externally sublime. It has a great 
historic and spiritual meaning for us. It 
stands for us as the ladder of life. Nay, 
more, it is the great ladder of the soul, 
and in a curious way the source of 
religion. From it came the Law, from 
it came the Gospel in the Sermon on 
the Mount. We may truly say that the 
highest religion is the Religion of the 
Mountain. 



What is that religion? When we reach 
the mountain summits we leave behind 
us all the things that weigh heavily 
down below on our body and our 
spirit. We leave behind a feeling of 
weakness and depression; we feel a 
new freedom, a great exhilaration, an 
exaltation of the body no less than of 
the spirit. We feel a great joy. The 
Religion of the Mountain is in reality 
the religion of joy, of the release of the 
soul from the things that weigh it 
down and fill it with a sense of 
weariness, sorrow and defeat. The 
religion of joy realises the freedom of 
the soul, the soul's kinship to the great 
creative spirit and its dominance over 
all the things of sense. As the body has 
escaped from the over-weight and 
depression of the sea, so the soul must 
be released from all sense of 
weariness, weakness and depression 



arising from the fret, worry and 
friction of our daily lives. We must 
feel that we are above it all, that the 
soul is essentially free, and in freedom 
realises the joy of living. And when 
the feeling of lassitude and depression 
and the sense of defeat advances upon 
us, we must repel it, and maintain an 
equal and cheerful temper. 

We must fill our daily lives with the 
spirit of joy and delight. We must 
carry this spirit into our daily lives and 
tasks. We must perform our work not 
grudgingly and as a burden imposed 
on us, but in a spirit of cheerfulness, 
goodwill and delight in it. Not only an 
the mountain summits of life, not only 
on the heights of success and achieve- 
ment, but down in the deep valleys of 
drudgery, of anxiety and defeat, we 
must cultivate this great spirit of 
joyous freedom and uplift of the soul. 



We must practise the religion of the 
mountain down in the valleys also. 

This may sound a hard doctrine, and it 
may be that only after years of practice 
are we able to triumph in spirit over 
the things that weigh and drag us 
down. But it is the nature of the soul, 
as of all life, to rise, to overcome, and 
finally to attain complete freedom and 
happiness. And if we consistently 
practise the religion of the mountain 
we must succeed in the end. To this 
great end Nature will co-operate with 
the soul. 

The mountains uphold us and the stars 
beckon to us. The mountains of our 
lovely land will make a constant 
appeal to us to live the higher life of 
joy and freedom. Table Mountain, in 
particular, will preach this great gospel 
to the myriads of toilers in the valley 
below. And those who, whether 



members of the Mountain Club or not, 
make a habit of ascending her 
beautiful slopes in their free moments, 
will reap a rich reward not only in 
bodily health and strength but also in 
an inner freedom and purity in an 
habitual spirit of delight, which will be 
the crowning glory of their lives. 

May I express a hope that in the years 
to come this memorial will draw 
myriads who live down below to 
breathe the purer air and become better 
men and women. Their spirits will join 
with those up here, and it will make us 
all purer and nobler in spirit and better 
citizens of the country... 



47 : Eclipse 

At this time the Chartered Company's 
contract in Southern Rhodesia was 
about to expire and the people were 
given the choice between self- 
government and incorporation by the 
Union. Naturally my father wanted 
Rhodesia to join us in the south, for 
we had much in common. Little more 
than the sandy bed of the Limpopo 
divided us. In order to facilitate 
discussions he decided to pay the 
colony a visit. By some it is said it was 
a political manoeuvre to enhance the 
Government's voting strength. But in 
truth the visit was planned because the 
hour for amalgamation seemed 
propitious. 

Rhodesians will perhaps forgive me 
for saying that their country, though a 
fine one, is a poor one so far as 
earning capacity is concerned. 



Rhodesia's livelihood was based 
largely on her mineral wealth, and 
more specifically on her gold mines, 
which were situated on small ore 
bodies and very much of the nature of 
wasting assets. Her farming potential, 
like that of all southern Africa, was 
distinctly limited and not sufficient to 
sustain a country dependent largely on 
imports. Geographically she was a 
land-locked country, living at the 
mercy of her neighbours for outlets to 
the sea. Strategically she was a 
satellite. Against all this were arrayed 
only two factors; one was the 
Rhodesian distrust of the Boers and 
the Afrikaans language, for the 
Rhodesians were at that time largely 
English; the other was Rhodesia's 
somewhat inflated idea of her own 
importance. She did not relish the idea 



of coming in merely as a fifth province 
of the Union. 

Negotiations went on for some while, 
the Union offering very generous 
terms to both the Chartered Company 
and the settlers. Financial authorities 
in Britain praised the magnanimity of 
the Union Government, and Lord 
Milner said that Rhodesia could hardly 
hope for better terms. Considerable 
pressure by the Imperial Government 
was brought to bear an Rhodesia to 
accept. The publication of the Smuts- 
Malcolm agreement caused a great 
boom in Chartered Company shares. 

While my father's visit was in 
progress it looked as though the 
merger might be successful, but after 
he left, the Rhodesians had second 
thoughts and all their old misgivings 
returned. So, when the plebiscite was 
held, a majority of 2,785 of the 15,000 



voted against incorporation. A golden 
opportunity had been lost by both 
countries. 

At the time of the Second World War, 
when my father was once more in 
power, discussion again took place on 
the question of a merger. Times were 
very favourable: we had fought for a 
common cause - Rhodesian soldiers 
with Springboks in the Union Defence 
Force, under the overall command of 
my father. Mutual regard was good 
and South African terms attractive. 
Rhodesia was feeling her financial 
straits and was looking for a way out. 
What more natural for her than to look 
towards her wealthy southern neigh- 
bour. But once again the question of 
prestige dragged out the negotiations, 
and in the end my father's government 
was ousted from power and the project 
died a natural death. Since then, 



Rhodesia has had to cast covetous 
eyes on the wealthy Northern Rhode- 
sian Copperbelt mines, and to concoct 
the unwieldy idea of a federation of 
Central African States. Britain has had 
misgivings about this ambitious 
scheme, pointing out that she fails to 
see what Southern Rhodesia has in 
common with native-saturated Nyasa- 
land. My father's views were that 
Rhodesia's incorporation in the Union 
was inevitable, but that there was no 
point in endeavouring to hurry the 
matter; it would come in its own good 
time. Responsible opinion in Rho- 
desia, I believe, shares these views. 

The Rand strike opened an ever- 
widening rift between the Government 
and the Labour Party. Though Labour 
had little in common with Hertzog, 
their deep hatred of the South African 
Party was sufficient to blind them to 



the many defects of the Nationalists. 
The Government, which a short while 
before had a majority of twenty- four, 
could now muster a lead of only 
fourteen. 

Merriman and many other supporters 
of my father were now old and in 
indifferent health; they could not be 
counted upon to be present in the 
House during voting. So the majority 
was in effect considerably smaller. It 
was clear that the days of the 
Government were numbered. Tielman 
Roos was working to bring Hertzog 
and Creswell together. On 23rd April, 
1923, his efforts were rewarded when 
a coalition between the two parties 
was formally agreed to. It was a black 
day for South Africa. It is hard to 
forgive Labour for this unprincipled 
act. My father called it an "unholy 
alliance". 



Events now occurred swiftly. His 
majority had by now been reduced to 
eight and the first of the post-war 
slumps had reached its peak. A by- 
election occurred at Wakkerstroom, a 
rural constituency in the Eastern 
Transvaal. The Government had held 
the seat for three successive general 
elections and staked all on winning 
again. They persuaded the well-liked 
A.G. Robertson, Administrator of the 
Transvaal, to stand. It came, therefore, 
as a great shock when the Nationalists 
won the seat. 

Without consulting his Cabinet, or the 
Party caucus, my father decided to 
resign and to test the feeling of the 
country in a general election. A few 
hours after the result of the by-election 
became known he told the House of 
his decision. It was a bombshell. The 
House was startled. His friends were 



angry and resentful, as well they might 
be. But truth to tell he had decided on 
this precipitate action because he fear- 
ed his Party might decide to struggle 
on as before. He felt the House could 
not do constructive work with such a 
slender majority. 

The election was notable for the 
bitterness of the attacks levelled at my 
father and for the parading of all the 
old bogeys. Such attacks never failed 
to form rallying points for the 
Nationalists. On June 17, 1924, it 
proved so once again. Hertzog won 
sixty-three seats against my father's 
fifty-three, and Labour increased the 
majority by an additional eighteen. 

My father resigned before the House 
met. Hertzog became Prime Minister. 
He remained Prime Minister for four- 
teen years. It was the end of an era - 
Part One of the Smuts Era. 




Doornkloof 



48 : Doornkloof 

My father moved into what is known 
as the "political wilderness". In reality, 
apart from the affront to his personal 
feelings, he merely moved out to the 
quiet of his farm at Irene. Here, in the 
peacefulness of these congenial sur- 
roundings, he was at last able to take a 
well-earned rest after twenty exacting 
and crowded years of political and 
public labours. Doornkloof has been 
through the years a wonderful refuge 
and inspiration to him. When my 
father returned home to Irene after his 
public trips he would sigh contentedly 
as he crossed the threshold and say: 
"Isn't this wonderful!" For he never 
forgot the irresistible call he first heard 
at Riebeeck West. The passing of the 
years had, in fact, merely served to 




General Smuts. An informal snap taken on his 
farm Doornkloof, near Pretoria - 1943 



strengthen and mature his deep-rooted 
love for the veld and the wide 
unspoiled spaces of nature. 

At the time of the National Conven- 
tion Britain decided to withdraw her 
garrison from the Transvaal and 
evacuate the various cantonments. In 
1908 my father bought for £300 a 
large wood-and-iron officers' mess hut 
from the camp at Middelburg and this 
he re-erected on Doornkloof. On the 
24th November, 1909, he moved into 
this house with his four elder children. 
My youngest sister (named Louis after 
General Botha) and I were subse- 
quently born in this old tin shanty, and 
we all grew up on the farm. 

Doornkloof is one of the oldest farms 
in the Transvaal, the first title deeds 
having been taken out by General 
Erasmus in 1844. His modest grave is 



now almost obliterated near the Irene 
Golf Club. 

We were no newcomers to 
Doornkloof, for in the 1880's two 
uncles of my another, Petrus and Jan 
Schabort, had farmed here for some 
years. It was on the advice of Jimmie 
Roos that my father bought the farm 
from Mr. Erasmus, the price being 
£6,000. 

The first manager of the farm was Jan 
Krige, my mother's uncle, and one- 
time market master of Johannesburg. 
He took over in 1910. Before the Boer 
War, when my parents lived in Johan- 
nesburg, Oom Jan lived with them. 
When my father took my mother to 
Johannesburg, in 1897, the old man 
did not realise that they were married, 
and being of pious disposition, was 
much worried that they should be 
living in sin, and seriously counselled 



friends to speak to them. He remained 
at Doornkloof till Andries Weyers, 
subsequently to marry my eldest sister 
Santa, took over as manager after the 
First World War. 

Doornkloof lies in the rolling 
Dolomite country, with its rocky hills 
and tall grass. Here the Hennops 
River, the headwaters of the Limpopo, 
which flows round the northern 
boundary of the Union, breaks 
picturesquely through the hills and 
meanders quietly down a rich loamy 
valley. This, when my parents first 
arrived, was a dense virgin wood of 
thorns, which had given the name of 
Thorn Valley to the farm. The woods 
were cleared to make way for the 
broad strip of land bordering the 
stream. Along its banks was left a 
narrow margin of the original trees, 
and it now has as well a fine facade of 



tall ashes and oaks, planted by my 
parents. 

In the upper reaches of the farm, above 
the Rietvlei Dam, where Kaalspruit 
pierces the hills, rises a conspicuous 
conical feature known as Bays Hill, 
which is surmounted by a derelict 
blockhouse that had been manned by a 
Derbyshire Regiment during the Boer 
War. Across the valley, immediately 
in front of the house, rises a further 
low rocky koppie, the grey of the 
dolomite blending attractively with the 
green grass and wild kippersol bushes. 
On it are the ruins of another 
blockhouse, now almost overgrown by 
a cluster of tall gums. 

At the back of the house, and in fact 
on all sides, rise rocky ridges, dotted 
here and there with indigenous trees, 
bristling with jagged outcrops of chert 
which, inter-bedded with the dolomite, 



form the most grotesque rockery 
shapes. Everywhere is the tall, waving 
canopy of highveld grasses. 

Lying at an altitude of 4,800 feet 
above sea level, the atmosphere is 
exhilarating, making one feel it is 
good to be alive. No country on earth 
boasts a finer climate than the 
Transvaal highveld. Small wonder my 
father always took a deep breath 
whenever he got back from his long 
journeys. 

Though the setting and climate were 
idyllic, Doornkloof was not a farming 
proposition, for the profusion of rock 
considerably curtailed cultivation. 
Realising that, my father was quite 
content to do his best, to see the 
development grow under his eyes and 
to foot the inevitable annual bill of 
deficit. 



There was nothing on the farm when 
we arrived excepting its attractive 
wildness and the prospect of much 
satisfying development. The only 
discordant feature was the twelve Boer 
bywoner families sprawled along the 
rivers. White "squatters" and pro- 
gressive farming are quite 
incompatible, and so from the first, my 
father set about their slow 
displacement. It took many years, and 
signs of their humble habitations are 
still evidenced by the tumbled heaps 
of stone and neglected fruit trees, the 
latter now a source of joy to the native 
piccanins. 

The house was erected on the sloping 
ground overlooking the centre of the 
valley and a pleasant sweep of the 
river. From the front could be seen the 
two blockhouse koppies, and in the 
trees in the distance, smoke from the 



little village of Irene. In the crinkle of 
the river immediately in front of the 
house is a cluster of wild yellow peach 
trees, remains of a large British camp 
here during the 1880 war. At Irene 
itself there had been a big concen- 
tration camp during the Boer War. A 
railway line runs through Irene and 
past the front of the farm. I grew up 
with the noise of the trains clattering 
noisily over the bridge. It was a distant 
friendly sound in the night. In the 
daytime there was the cooing of the 
turtle doves in the trees. 

Though the house has no architectural 
beauty it nevertheless has the virtue of 
spaciousness and pliability. Three- 
quarters of the way round runs a broad 
stoep. This was most useful to us as 
children, and as we grew up parts were 
partitioned off as additional rooms. 



The house, as befitted a good officers' 
mess, was a large sprawling one, with 
big mess rooms and numerous smaller 
apartments. These, by suitable 
manipulation, we turned into ten quite 
comfortable bedrooms. It was a 
corrugated-iron structure, lined with 
wood, perched well off the ground on 
tall foundations. In summer it was hot, 
and in winter bitterly cold, with water 
freezing in the bedroom jugs, and 
chilly draughts filtering through the 
walls. It was an ideal refuge for stoics. 
The original idea was that this house 
would be temporary and that a 
permanent home would be built higher 
up on the hillside one day. Needless to 
say the family grew so attached to this 
old "Groothuis" (big house) that the 
other idea gradually fell away. The 
Groothuis was like a big meccano set, 
for it was easy to dismantle the 



internal walls and alter its shape at 
will. Besides, my mother loved it and 
would not hear of a change. 

Its size came in useful not only to 
store the constant stream of books that 
flowed in, but also to accommodate 
the number of visitors inseparable 
from a public life. The hillside was 
bare at the time, but my parents set 
about tree-planting with vigour, and 
later also found time to put in half a 
million blue gums for mine prop 
timber farther afield. With the 
establishment of the trees, the wild 
bees discovered the virtues of the 
house, and numerous swarms made 
hives In the partitions between the 
wood and iron. We have, for as long as 
I can remember, harboured about a 
dozen permanent swarms and though 
docile in winter, the inhabitants were 
apt to grow irritable as the hot sun beat 



on the tin in summer. So, at the cost of 
occasional painful stings, we have had 
an inexhaustible supply of honey 
within our walls. 

My father grew very attached to his 
birds and bees, and he made it, to the 
last, a special duty to see that the 
hollow stone bird baths had a constant 
supply of water. In some strange way 
the bees sensed his sympathy, for he 
was almost immune to their wrath. But 
we, as well as many a visitor, were not 
always so fortunate. 

To my father Doornkloof was not only 
a farm and a home, it was a refuge. 
Here, away from the bustle of the 
cities, and far from clamouring 
humanity, he could relax and live a 
natural life. Without this quiet 
contrast, existence would have been 
quite intolerable. For the life of a 
public man in South Africa is more 



exacting than in the Old World. Here 
people feel that they have a distinct 
right to call on their public men, and 
on the slightest provocation come 
along to see them, whether it be a 
business call or an excuse for a chat. 
Some come from distant parts with 
greetings and messages of goodwill; 
some come with grievances; some 
merely come to talk; they arrive in an 
endless stream. They leave one no 
time for privacy and little for work. 
For this reason it is absolutely 
essential with us in South Africa to 
have a secluded refuge, some 
inviolable castle in the wilds. 
Doornkloof was that, and my father 
took full advantage of it. 

He had always taken an intimate 
interest in farming, but time pressed 
too heavily to permit active farming 
himself. Instead, he employed 



managers, and to these he gave an 
almost free hand. They had the 
pleasure of pouring money into the 
farm, and my father, disregarding his 
personal financial affairs, enjoyed 
seeing the farms grow. On Doornkloof 
his interest was centred largely on his 
pedigree Friesland dairy herd, but in 
the bushveld he took great pride in his 
red Afrikander cattle and his wheat 
crops, while in the Western Transvaal 
his interest was mealies (maize). The 
bushveld farms satisfied a botanical 
interest in the tree and shrub line and 
the other farms afforded an interest in 
grass types. Nearby, in Irene, was his 
botanical friend and mentor, Dr. Pole 
Evans, onetime head of the 
Government Departments of Botany 
and Horticulture. 

My father's farming efforts were not 
always free from malicious meddling. 



A fine Friesland bull, Bloemhof 
Sondag, for which he paid £1,200, had 
its tail cut off by some maniac one 
night, and a few months later was 
fatally poisoned. Since then quite a 
few cows have succumbed to arsenical 
poisoning. With such crude feelings 
running wild, it was obvious that the 
owner of the farm himself might not 
always be clear of hostile attentions, 
so in times of crises the State provided 
guards. Though my father found being 
guarded most irksome, the authorities 
nevertheless insisted. On some 
dangerous occasions I remember him 
going off alone at nightfall wrapped in 
his greatcoat to the safety of the hill 
behind the house. In his bedroom 
cupboard was always a loaded 
revolver, though I doubt whether he 
would have known how to use it. 
Rifles he understood well and was 



quite a good shot. When my brother 
and I grew up, he gladly passed on to 
us all his firearms and wartime 
souvenirs. 

The dolomite area of Irene is 
honeycombed with caves, which we 
children loved to explore. My father 
never showed any desire to go down 
them, though he took an active interest 
in their associations. He told us of the 
last lions that were shot here, about 
1850, by General Erasmus. A male 
and female were encountered at the 
big white stink-wood tree near the 
house, and the male being wounded, 
both made off into the big cave on the 
river below Bays Hill. They never 
reappeared. 

When we were children he used to tell 
how, in the days of the ruthless 
Matabele Chief Moselekatze, in the 
1820s and '30s, natives had sought 



refuge in the caves. Moselekatze heard 
of this and by lighting huge fires in the 
entrances, asphyxiated his hapless 
victims. We often came upon their 
skulls and bones in our fossickings. 

But perhaps the biggest service 
Doornkloof rendered my father was 
the scope it offered for walking, riding 
and other forms of exercise. He greatly 
enjoyed walking, and there was no 
corner for many miles around he did 
not know from tramping and re- 
tramping repeatedly. If Table 
Mountain afforded him the religion of 
the lofty spaces, in Doornkloof 
assuredly was centred his worship of 
the veld. It was his favourite farm, and 
I feel convinced that his decision to 
buy it in 1908 was one of his most 
satisfying and beneficial decisions. 

On the northern shoulder of the low 
koppie behind the house - rises a 



conspicuous cluster of rocks. Here, in 
this picturesque corner of our sunny 
veld, with familiar views all around, 
we scattered his ashes. He had made 
no request about what was to be done 
with his mortal remains, for the matter 
was one of indifference to him; but we 
all felt that this was a fitting resting- 
place. 

Doornkloof was much like a 
menagerie, for we always had wild 
animal pets roaming about. In the days 
before the First World War we started 
off with elands, largest of African 
antelopes, but one after another these 
had accidents and the experiment 
petered out. Later on, we had an ill- 
tempered leopard, Spice, and at 
various times two lions. The first, 
Sally, was almost fully grown at 
fourteen months before we returned 
her to the Pretoria Zoo. She was a 



good-natured and playful animal, and 
like the rest, roamed about at will. We 
had two stately kudu antelopes, 
numerous frolicsome copper-coloured 
impala, many prancing springbuck and 
lesser duiker and steenbuck. A second 
attempt at establishing elands proved 
no more successful, but we were more 
successful with our blesbuck, and a 
herd of some hundreds of these roam 
happily on the hills. 

We have also had some large birds as 
pets, such as ostriches, various cranes 
and wild geese, canaries and 
budgerigars. Some of these, like many 
of the other animals that had grown 
too tame and familiar, lost their fear of 
man and grew aggressive. None could 
be said to have the docile habits of our 
ordinary domestic friends. They were 
purely elements to stimulate the eye 
and interest. 



Still wilder and more restful was the 
bushveld farm. It was warm there and 
unspoiled, and about the nearest spot 
of untamed Africa to Pretoria. In that 
peaceful atmosphere one could feel the 
ties with the primeval past. It had an 
irresistible attraction for my father. He 
went out there frequently whenever he 
had a chance. In the old days, before 
we had a house, we used to camp out 
in small bivouac tents, which got 
waterlogged or blew away during 
storms. The journeys there along old 
ox-wagon roads in the unreliable 
motor-cars of the past were veritable 
adventures, and I have vivid memories 
of pushing through patches of mud or 
stretches of sand. 

In 1930 we had an emergency landing 
strip prepared in the bush and my 
father used sometimes to fly down 
from Pretoria for week-ends. On one 



occasion his Wapiti only just cleared 
the trees on its take-off. 

Here, as elsewhere, he went for long 
walks, and from these rambles he 
sometimes returned hot and covered in 
minute ticks. For the next few days he 
would carefully pick these tiny pests 
from his person. On one occasion I 
came across him walking back home 
in the road, minus his trousers, which 
had become too heavily infested with 
these parasites. 



49 : Home 

The attractions of the old shanty at 
Irene lie in its associations, rather than 
appearance. The approach to the house 
along the narrow dirt road is winding 
and informal and the house is 
obscured by a haphazard jumble of 
trees. There is no garden, the rectangle 
of Kikuyu grass being merely enclosed 
by indigenous white stinkwood trees, 
where formerly there had been a 
hedge. The first impression of the 
building is of a tall red iron roof and 
white wooden palings enclosing a 
broad verandah. The red granolithic 
steps have an impression of age and 
rough usage. As a boy I did much 
hammering on them to test their 
hardness. 

Inside, in the hall which is dark 
because the stoep shuts out light, one 
sees first the gong-stand given to my 



father by his Imperial Staff after the 
East African campaign of the First 
World War. On an ebony base stands 
an arch of elephant tusks from which 
are suspended two shell-cases of the 
4.1-inch guns of the Konigsberg. On 
the left and right are the doors to the 
sitting- and dining-rooms. Ahead 
stretches a long dark passage, lined all 
the way with high shelves of books. At 
the end of this passage is a big mess 
room with high beamed roof with 
glass ceiling fittings to admit more 
light. For this was once the billiards 
room. My father made it his study. 
Another door going off to the right at 
the end of the passage is my father's 
bedroom. 

The rest of the house does not really 
warrant description except that my 
father's side was separate. There is 
one thing common throughout the 



house, however, and that is that all 
rooms everywhere are crammed with 
overflowing bookshelves. 

My father's bedroom was as plain and 
unpretentious as any in the house. It 
was in fact little better than a broad 
passage, eleven feet wide and fifteen 
feet long. A door and window faced on 
to a fly-screened stoep. Beyond that 
one looked abruptly on to walls. Until 
1928 he used to sleep regularly on a 
hard iron bed on this stoep, but 
thereafter he sought refuge from the 
cold in his room and later surrendered 
himself to the luxury of a spring 
mattress. The furniture was plain, 
consisting of a three-quarter bed, 
washstand, wardrobe, cupboard and 
chairs. Clothing overflowed into a 
curtained bracket screwed on the 
walls. There are numerous photo- 
graphs on the walls, mostly of 



members of the family in their youth, 
and of grandchildren. Crude little 
sketches made by various 
grandchildren in their earlier years of 
infancy, were thumb-tacked on to the 
walls. My father was a homely man 
with a keen family sense, and these 
intimate little knick-knacks gave him 
great pleasure, and at times, I think, 
solace. 

The room was extremely tidy. My 
father was a careful and fastidious 
person. He would neatly fold his 
clothes before putting them away and 
there was no disorder. 

In this room he kept a tin of biscuits 
and a tin of peppermints. These he 
used sparingly himself on occasion, 
but really they were there as a lure for 
his grandchildren. These small folk 
were to be found there with their Oupa 
at all times, both parties obviously 



enjoying the exchange of credentials. 
Though their parents often felt they 
were proving a nuisance, their 
grandfather obviously felt differendy, 
no matter how unorthodox their enter- 
tainment. As he lay on his bed reading 
they would pile their toys and his 
boots on top of him, or clamber all 
over him and sit on his tummy. His 
beard never failed to intrigue them and 
he had to answer endless questions. 
We have sometimes arrived on the 
scene to find them shining his torch 
into his mouth, the fond patient good- 
naturedly submitting to their 
attentions. 

When we remonstrated, he assured us 
that they were all having a good time. 
They often had equally good times 
when out on walks along the farm 
roads, for the youngsters usually came 
back looking like dishevelled tramps 



and their Oupa on such occasions 
looked guilty as he handed them back 
to their mothers. 

There can be no doubt that my father 
derived great joy from the presence of 
little children. They seemed to denote 
to him the wild, unspoiled, basic 
human animal from which we have 
drifted an our devious ways in life, 
often without any distinct credit to our 
simple origins. They seemed to rest his 
mind and at the same time to restore 
his faith in human nature. They were a 
wonderful tonic. The younger they 
were the more fuss he made of them. 
And at the same time they were also a 
protection to him when very talkative 
visitors arrived, far by drawing 
attention to the children he usually 
succeeded in diverting the conversa- 
tion. 




Pausing to talk to friends on the way up Table 
Mountain - 1938. 



Below the house, near the lands, was a 
dam, and here we all used to swim and 
canoe in summer. As toddlers the 
water was too deep for us and my 
father used to carry us in his arms. He 
was a strong swimmer, and as in 
walking, he covered long distances 
and loved the exercise, swimming 
quietly with a breaststroke action. 
Physical exercise in one form or 
another formed quite a fetish in his 
life. After the Boer War he kept in 
trim by doing physical culture exer- 
cises under the eyes of Arthur Collard, 
preferring the brisk Swedish methods 
to the other more ponderous muscle- 
building ones. Another secret of his 
amazing physical fitness was his 
perfection of the idea of relaxation. 
When he really sat in comfort, he 
always put his feet up an a stool, and 



even an long journeys in aircraft he 
did this where possible. 

The chill of water never worried him 
and when at the Cape he bathed in the 
cold Atlantic at Hout Bay and Wit- 
sands quite as readily as in the warm 
waters of the Indian Ocean at Melkbos 
Strand or Christian Beach. After one 
of his climbs of Table mountain in 
1933 he came down via Constantia 
Nek and before cooling down took a 
plunge in the frigid waters of Hout 
Bay. The result was a bad chill and an 
admonition from Dr. Moffat. 

While walking and climbing he bathed 
where he wished, in the clear pools in 
the mountains or in the tropical stream 
of Central Africa. Crocodiles he 
avoided by venturing only into exten- 
sive shallows, and bilharzia, a 
microbic schistosoma hazard of all 
African rivers, he outwitted by bathing 



only in swiftly running waters. 
Needless to remark the question of 
bathing costumes seldom obtruded. On 
one occasion while out walking with a 
party which included a young woman 
he suggested they all take .1 dip in an 
attractive stream, saying "take my 
costume". This happened to be one of 
the cut-away male type and when the 
young lady protested he said, "Goad 
heavens, child. A woman has nothing 
to be ashamed of in exposing her 
bosom!" Convention, however, 
thought otherwise! He undressed next 
to his car on public beaches with 
complete nonchalance. 

My father's habit of swimming far out 
to sea was always a matter of concern 
to us, for both sharks and angry 
backwashes lurked beyond the 
breakers. During the war his guards 
took the precaution of having a life- 



saving apparatus handy in the back of 
the car. The fact that my father had 
been swept out to sea at Hermanus by 
the powerful backwash as a youth, and 
had succeeded in getting back only by 
dint of keeping cool and casting 
himself upon the incoming waves, had 
not deterred him. At the treacherous 
beach at Witsands he expected us, too, 
as children to swim in the powerful 
undertow. It was a streak of abandon 
in him, rather than the reckless. It was 
an imp which appeared whenever he 
drove an automobile as well. But here, 
too, by skill and cool judgment, his 
luck held. 

Up to 1923 we had worked on the 
candle and paraffin principle as far as 
lighting went, but as a surprise, when 
he was away in England, my mother 
had had a small electric plant installed. 
She was disappointed when upon his 



return my father, not even noticing the 
change, criticised the darkness of the 
wall paint, though he had complained 
about the lights when he got back from 
the Peace Conference in 1919. 

To our intense joy he also brought a 
radio back with him in 1923, but it 
crackled so and reception in those days 
was so poor that we had to turn it off 
whenever he was about as the noise 
irritated him. With the advent later of 
better sets, and as the standard of news 
services improved, he became inclined 
to listen to this portion of the 
programmes. During the hectic years 
of the rise of Nazism, he liked to listen 
to the radio news services, and during 
the war itself he insisted on hearing his 
radio news. No matter how often he 
had already read the same reports in 
the press, he always listened in, not 
only to the local but also to the 



Daventry service from England. The 7 
a.m. service he listened to while 
shaving in his bedroom, but the 
midday service and the 7 p.m. one 
corresponded with meal times, and all 
present then had to sit hushed and 
patient while this item dragged on. 
Frequently we said to him, "But, 
Pappa, you have already heard all this 
before!" To which he would always 
retort, "Yes, but you never know. You 
might just pick up something new!" At 
Irene, with only the family present, 
these hushed meals were not so bad, 
but at Groote Schuur, no matter what 
guests were being entertained, 
everybody would be hushed and the 
same ritual gone through. I remember 
him glancing at his watch and saying 
to the Queen at Windsor Castle during 
the war after a late tea, "Would it be 
possible, Mam, for us to listen to the 



wireless news?" whereupon Her 
Majesty obligingly took us off to her 
sitting-room. Mr. Churchill too, I 
noticed, always had his small portable 
brought in to the dinner table at 
Chequers. 

As parents, the two in our family left 
little to be desired, though at times my 
father was away so frequently and so 
long that he became almost a stranger 
to us. My mother did not usually 
accompany him on his travels, but 
stayed at home to look after her large 
family, which she did good-naturedly, 
giving us great freedom. She saw to 
the comforts of the house and left the 
public duties to my father. 

The dual system in the Union of 
having our Parliamentary seat in Cape 
Town and Administrative capital in 
Pretoria is a relic of the days of the 
National Convention, and a 



compromise to satisfy the prestige of 
the two provinces, but it is 
troublesome in every other respect. 
For it means that up-country 
parliamentarians, like ourselves, had to 
have two homes, one in the Cape 
during the four months annual sessions 
of Parliament, and one in the Trans- 
vaal for the rest of the year. With 
families at school, the move down to 
the Cape became quite impossible for 
us, and we had to evolve some form of 
compromise. We felt it our duty for 
somebody always to be at the Cape 
with my father. 

There is no garden in front of the 
house at Doornkloof now. My mother 
was a keen gardener when we first 
came to live here, but my father 
preferred his wild, indigenous plants 
and scorned the exotic varieties of 
gardens. So gradually my mother was 



prevailed upon to let nature take its 
course. The rectangular row of wild 
Transvaal white stinkwoods marks the 
position of an erstwhile hawthorn 
hedge and had their origins in bird 
droppings. In about 1920, the young 
trees started coming up through the 
hedge and my father decided to take 
the hawthorns away to make room for 
them. And the flower-beds slowly 
made room for lawns. 

So gradually the colour disappeared 
from the front of the house, but in its 
place grew up a wilderness with a 
character of its own. But the view 
from the front verandah was 
sufficiently pleasant, especially in 
summer, to need no garnishings. And 
in the evenings the gorgeous Transvaal 
sunsets painted enchanting pictures in 
the western skies. But now the trees 
have hemmed in the garden so 



effectively that it is difficult to see 
even the sunsets. 

In the old days my father used to go to 
his office by train, walking the mile 
and a half to the station. There was no 
bridge till the First World War (when 
my mother had one built as a surprise) 
and when the river came down in spate 
after heavy thunderstorms, we were 
sometimes cut off for a while. When 
the floods were not too high, we were 
still able to scramble across the trunks 
of two huge fallen willows. On the 
way to the station nay father would 
escort his elder children to the local 
school in the village. 

In times of crises, he took, however, to 
his car, and after the First World War 
he went regularly to office by this 
means. He learned to drive an old 
Buick in 1911 and thereafter he drove 
many cars, always preferring to do the 



driving himself. In the open he drove 
with skill, but he never quite mastered 
traffic, robots or stop streets. 
Consequently his driving was at times 
a bit nerve-racking. My wife tells of a 
trip round the precipitous Marine 
Drive of the Cape with the Montagu 
Normans. Lord Norman had been 
warned about my father's driving and 
insisted that my wife should sit in 
front as a restraining influence. This 
made matters worse because my father 
now not only found it necessary to 
point things out with his hands, but 
faced backwards when talking. The 
result was a winding and uncertain 
course - with a drop of a thousand 
feet, sheer, at the side. The Normans 
were too petrified to appreciate the 
superb scenery and only prayed for the 
end of the drive. Even my wife on 



occasion felt moved to draw my 
father's attention to his driving. 

Much as my father had to commend 
his driving, he had little to boast of as 
a mechanic. Beyond being able to 
change a wheel, he was quite helpless 
with the machine. He was really not 
good with his hands at all. Their 
slender shape and long tapering 
fingers truthfully indicated the artist. 
They were expressive rather than 
strong. Hence, as a handyman about 
the house, he left much to be desired. I 
don't think I ever saw him using a 
screwdriver, and I never saw him 
using a hammer. 

But I will say this for his motoring 
efforts, that when stuck in sand or 
mud, he pushed and pulled with the 
best of us, in preference to sitting 
behind the wheel. He once spent all 
day pushing his car through the mud 



of the Game Reserve. When he got to 
the hotel at Louis Trichardt he chanced 
to look at the hands of the young man 
who had been driving. These were 
white and unsoiled. The contrast spoke 
for itself. He just gave an eloquent 
grunt! 

In the earlier days, in Johannesburg 
and Pretoria, he had been a keen 
cyclist and on week-ends used to ride 
out for miles into the countryside. I 
have never seen him on a bicycle, but 
my mother remembers quite clearly 
the Raleigh he bought for £31 which 
gave him so much fun. From his lone 
cycling jaunts he used to return badly 
sunburnt and exhausted, but having 
enjoyed his outing. 

As a father of a large family he was 
absolutely ideal, for he had the 
unbounded physical energy to join in 
our vigorous games, and the only 



complaints were from the smaller ones 
who said that he was too rough. The 
big house on Doornkloof was well 
suited to these vigorous indoor games 
at night, and after supper there would 
be absolute pandemonium, with 
everybody rushing about wildly, 
followed by my father with a stick. 
The idea was not to be caught with 
your feet on the ground, or a painful 
smack from the stick would result. My 
mother says he played this self 
conceived game with her young 
brothers and sisters at Stellenbosch, he 
played it with us, his children, and 
later he played it with his numerous 
grandchildren. Even my mother was 
not always proof against the penalties 
of the game. 



50 : Library 

My father's library of books showed 
his range of interests. His collection 
was not large, numbering a mere 
6,000, but it can truthfully be said that 
he had read them all and knew their 
contents, as the marginal notes in 
many will show. Some of the books 
are valuable, many are authors' 
inscribed copies, and some are of 
considerable age. 

In the passage leading up to the Study 
are his books on travel, native study, 
Africana and wars. There are about 70 
volumes of the wars in Africa, chiefly 
the World Wars. On the World Wars 
in Europe there are 250 volumes. 
There are also in these shelves 
numerous books on South African 
history, South African reminiscences, 
native folk-lore, anthropology and 
ethnology. 



There is a good Africana collection of 
about 400 volumes. 

In this same passage, in gaps, and 
above the level of the bookshelves, 
hang photographs of J.H. Brand, 
Kruger, Emily Hobhouse, de la Rey 
and Botha leaving the Houses of 
Parliament just before the Rebellion, 
the First Union Cabinet and the 1919- 
20 Cabinet. 

Also in this passage, at the lower end, 
are many hundreds of books on fiction 
which my mother considered her 
preserve. They range from the Walter 
Scott classics to present-day light 
Afrikaans reading. 

The Study houses the main collection. 
Here in this 30-by-20-foot room there 
are seven-layer shelves round the 
entire perimeter except for the 28 feet 
taken up by doors and desks. On the 



two end walls used to hang the 
German flags of South-West and of 
East Africa. These are now stored 
elsewhere for safety. There used also 
to be numerous Zulu shields and 
clusters of assegais, East African bows 
and arrows, guns and other articles 
which I removed elsewhere some 
years ago. Now there remain only the 
bronze emblem of a German train at 
Keetmanshoop, sawfish teeth,, my 
father's Boer War sjambok, cartoons 
and pictures. Over the door is a large 
signed photo of the delegates of the 
National Convention, and just 
alongside a large autographed one of 
the Imperial War Cabinet of the First 
World War. There are smaller photos 
af Botha, Merriman, Schalk Burger, 
Campbell-Bannerman, J.H. Hofmeyr 
and my father at forty. There are also 



four original cartoons by Ward of 
Punch. 

The furniture consists of two large 
desks, a safe, two settees, chairs, club- 
easies and my father's leg rest. Legal 
books form the largest and best part of 
the collection, filling one complete 
wall. Of these there are forty large 
very old Law books in English, French 
and Dutch, as well as 125 old volumes 
in various languages. There is a large 
collection of Gluck's German 
Pandecten and other German books: 
there is the French Causes Celebres 
and Codes Fragais and other French 
works: there are considerable numbers 
of English Law books, including 
Maritime Law; there are the Grotius 
Society books and many others in 
Dutch. 

About 300 of these references are still 
used in present-day legal practice. 



Elsewhere there is an old Dutch Bible 
from Antwerp dating back to 1534, but 
otherwise all the books are modern. 
They include works on Relativity and 
Evolution; the Quantum theory, 
Physics and Chemistry; the atom, 
Biology and Genetics; Cytology, 
Biochemistry, Heredity, Geology, 
Darwinism and Evolution; 

Anthropology and Palaeontology; 
Metallurgy; The Nature Of Matter; 
Agriculture and Ecology; Psychology 
and Ethics and many others of 
scientific and philosophical interest. 
The authors rover the famous 
scientists of our time: Einstein, 
Eddington, leans, Tutin, Aston,, 
Gregory, Blaikie, Huxley, Lindemann, 
Millikan, Younge, Russell, Perry, 
Poulton, Bews, Keith, Infeld, Wagner, 
Kayser, Passarge, Soddy, Milne, 
Bragg, Haldane, Hogben, Max Planck, 



Bohr, Rutherford, Lodge, Faraday, du 
Toit and numerous others. These more 
or less fill one wall. 

The rest of the shelves are crammed 
with books of every conceivable 
character, as well as numerous 
pamphlets, publications by various 
societies and government publications. 
The books cover such topics as history 
(of many countries), travel, poetry, 
education, sociology, ethics, 

international affairs, wars, eugenics, 
philosophy, government, military 
operations, Commonwealth affairs, 
League of Nations, political problems, 
exploration, Poor White problems, 
farming, psychology, finance, 
numerous biographies and 

autobiographies, constitutional 

histories, mining, religion, German 
books on Foreign Policy, 
encyclopaedias, dictionaries, versions 



of the Bible, Shakespeare's plays, 
poetry, Keats, Goethe and the Brontes, 
Walt Whitman, and much else besides. 

In the north stoep annexe, just outside 
the Study, are his 300 botany books 
containing such works as Dr. 
Marloth's complete series of the Flora 
Capensis; Flowering Plants, Natal 
Plants, Orchids of the Cape; books by 
Engler on African botany; Portuguese 
botany books, general botany, 
Californian and Pacific plants, 
volumes on the Stapeliat, Euphorbiae 
and Lithops, Flora Groccae, Das 
Kaapland, British botany, Andrew's 
Heaths, Ferns of Great Britain and 
Ireland, Forest Flora of the Cape, 
American Wild Flowers; books on 
palxo-botany by Seward and Marie 
Stopes, books by Pole Evans and 
Hutchinson; and various additional 
books and journals. Some of the older 



books are rare and precious. Some 
represent the only copies in this 
country. By and large, therefore, it is 
probably the best private collection in 
the Union. 

Then there is an additional southern 
annexe on the other side of the study 
containing mostly books on foreign 
and international affairs, education and 
such-like, as well as books on the First 
World War. 

It was throughout a modest collection, 
neatly stored and all arranged and 
stacked by my father personally. The 
family seldom interfered with his 
books, except periodically to dust 
them, where after he would complain 
that they had been mixed up. 

The rest of the books in the house 
belonged to my mother and 
overflowed to every room. They were 



mostly books on fiction and the 
classics, and to suit taste, even 
detective thrillers were included. 






After dinner it was the habit of my 
father to retire to his study to read or 
work, and here no one dared disturb 
him. At 9.30 he would return to the 
dining-room, which we used as a 
living room, and here he would join in 
family chatter while drinking his 
nightcap cup of scalding, weak tea. At 
ten, he would go to bed where he 
would tune in first of all to the late 
radio news, and after that he would 
read till about eleven, when he would 
turn out the light and drop off to sleep. 
He was a very light sleeper, but 
usually he slept soundly till about 4 
a.m., when having slept his fill he 
would switch on his light and read till 
daybreak. The 7 a.m. news he usually 



listened to while shaving, and 
depending on the time of arrival of the 
morning paper, he might then already 
he almost through it. Breakfast was at 
8, my father standing up and walking 
about during much of this meal. Yet it 
was a contented impatience, and after 
a boiling cup of tea he would go 
outside into the sunshine to finish the 
paper. 

This completed, he would prepare to 
leave for his office in Pretoria. At 
Groote Schuur in Cape Town his ritual 
was the same. There was never any 
fuss or bother or ill-humour. My father 
invariably started off the day fresh and 
cheerful. The worries with which he 
had gone to bed, he had long since 
solved during the night. Once having 
come to a decision he never worried. 
His mind was absolutely decisive. 



There were always grandchildren 
around him while he was eating, and 
for these he would prepare a special 
plate of bread and honey cut into small 
squares. They were usually rather 
noisy and when the news service came 
on we had to shoo them away. 

Work he did in prodigious quantities. 
He was never idle like normal person. 
He never took time off just to sit and 
ponder. When he wanted to do a little 
heavy thinking, he often went for a 
long walk and did both together. He 
was always either reading, writing or 
talking. Ordinary novels he virtually 
never found time to read. We once, for 
the fun of it, prevailed upon him to 
read a detective story by Dorothy L. 
Sayers and he grew so engrossed in 
the plot that he did not turn out the 
light till he got to the end. Thereafter 
he never read another. 



In 1923 the Earl of Athlone brought 
Lord and Lady Milner out to the farm 
for lunch. Lady Milner mentions this 
visit in a publication of her diaries in 
1950. She refers to my mother as a 
"plump Boer woman", though at the 
time my mother weighed only 107 
pounds. She says we seemed awed by 
the presence of a great man (Milner). 
Doornkloof has seen many great men, 
and we are not easily awed. And the 
"scrub cattie" she saw were prize 
studbook Frieslands. However, my 
father was very pleased to see Milner 
and to show him hospitality. It was an 
informal, enjoyable occasion. 



51 : Holism and Evolution 

In the quiet of this rambling home my 
father now found himself in the 
summer of 1924. The electorate had 
decided to put him on the shelf. 
George Hay, a Labour candidate, had 
ousted him from his seat in Pretoria 
West. As Leader of the Opposition it 
was essential that my father should 
have a seat. Numerous successful 
South African Party candidates 
immediately offered him their seats. 
He chose to accept Gert Wessels's one 
at Standerton. 

Now for the first time he was free to 
do as he wished. At home he did not 
go round moping like a defeated man. 
He seemed buoyant, and almost glad 
to be out. There was not going to be an 
idle moment, for he had already long 
ago planned what he would do one day 
when he had leisure. 



For many years he had been reading, 
studying and arranging his ideas on a 
book on philosophy he intended 
writing. He therefore now sat down, 
and with little additional preparation, 
set about writing feverishly. He had 
read all the philosophers and his ideas 
were so clear that he had seldom to 
refer to them again. In laborious 
longhand, he wrote on and on. It was 
all done so unobtrusively and with so 
little fuss and bother that we barely 
realised he had tackled his great work. 
There were no stenographers about 
and no experts in consultation. In eight 
months the task was completed. 
Holism and Evolution was in 
manuscript form. To his secretary, Jan 
Dommisse, fell the difficult task of 
deciphering the handwriting and 
typing it all out. Only at this stage did 



we assess the extent of the activity that 
was afoot. 

In many respects Holism is a 
remarkable book, quite apart from the 
fact that it is a link between the 
physical, and metaphysical. It is 
remarkable for the speed in which it 
was written. It is remarkable because 
my father wrote it as a relaxation when 
he must have been suffering 
considerable mental depression after 
his rough political drubbing. Nor was 
he able to devote his time exclusively 
to writing, for at the same time he was 
busy with the domestic affairs of his 
Party, which was threatening to 
crumble. Yet under all these varied 
circumstances he set out his ideas in a 
clarity of prose that is arresting and 
almost poetic in parts. 

It is not a book for light or casual 
reading. 



Holism will stand out as a message of 
perfection, building up and leading to 
still greater perfection, of fragments 
leading to wholes which are superior 
to the mere sum total of their con- 
stituent parts. It is a doctrine of 
optimism and elevation. 

Yet these great ideas my father had 
carried modestly in his head all these 
years. He never spoke of them in the 
family, and even after the book had 
been published, he could seldom be 
drawn into discussion. It was part of 
his life-long reticence. He often spoke 
more openly on the public platform 
than in the small private circle. 

Holism ran into three editions in 
England and a special edition was also 
printed in America. The Germans were 
much interested in the work, and a 
German edition is also available. 



On the fly-leaf to the Second Edition, 
on which he had done extensive 
corrections, he scribbled: 



sand, 



hand 



"To see a world in a grain of 

And a heaven in a wild flower 
Hold infinity in the palm of the 

And eternity in an hour:" 

Holism, like the theory of the build-up 
of wholes it propounds, is itself a child 
of complex creation. It was as a youth 
when he was fond of poetry that the 
germ of holistic concept occurred to 
him, for to him poetry brought the 
fundamentals of reality. In studying 
the works of Goethe and Walt 
Whitman, he said in a lecture at the 
Witwatersrand University on 21st 
September, 1927, it seemed to him 
that there was something greater in 
them than in their works and in their 



personalities than in their mere words. 
It was in studying their personalities 
that he came upon the conception of 
the whole. When he returned to South 
Africa from Cambridge just before the 
Jameson Raid, he found the country 
torn by racial strife. After the Raid 
came years of friction which 
culminated in the Boer War. The Boer 
War had left him his first big problem 
in holism. "We were left fragments out 
of which we were to make a whole, 
and it was the problem of South 
African statesmen to follow up the 
ideal in the solution of our political 
problems. We did so and I think not 
without some success. Gradually we 
have seen emerging out of these 
discordant elements the lineaments of 
a new South Africa. We have not yet 
the whole, we have not yet a really 
united South Africa, we have not yet 



attained to the unity which was an 
ideal. There is still too much of the old 
division and separation in our national 
elements, but still the effort has been 
made, and today you see in South 
Africa the biggest problem facing us 
being solved along holistic lines." 

In the vast complexity of the world 
around him my father was groping for 
some solution - some key to the 
amazing pattern of events around him. 
As a scientist he was disinclined to the 
belief that the world was a mere 
haphazard jumble of disconnected 
factors. There must be guiding laws in 
nature and science, if only one could 
find them. 

We all feel we have to be guided by 
some light through the maze of life. 
What I have done in philosophy is 
more from a general standpoint, 
without any technical thought. I have 



simply tried to hammer out some rule 
of thought to carry my action along. 

In our day it is all the more necessary 
for us to hammer out a new point of 
view. There is no doubt that we are 
living in a most extraordinary era, and 
I think the words of the poet apply 
here: 



"The old world is dead, 

and the new unready to be 



born!' 



We have left behind us a great era in 
the history of the world. We do not see 
it yet, and we are in the transition 
period between the two. It is one of the 
most interesting and one of the most 
difficult periods for any generation to 
pass through: 

What we want is some larger 
synthesis, some concepts that will 
bring together the vast details with 



which we have to deal. There has been 
an immense movement forward in 
thought, science, philosophy and all 
forms of human development. We are 
now running the risk of getting lost, 
becoming submerged in the details, 
and it is all important for us to get 
some larger view of all this vast mass. 
We want what Professor Hoernle 
would call after Plato, the "synoptic 
vision" over all these details. 

If we could have that vision much of 
our present-day perplexities would 
disappear. I have no "synoptic vision". 
I have only an idea which occurred to 
me and which may, to some small 
extent, help to guide ns through the 
surrounding difficulties. 

Holism is an attempt at synthesis, an 
attempt at bringing together many 
currents of thought and development 
such as we have seen in our day. It is 



not a system of philosophy. I do not 
believe very much in systems. They 
are sometimes helpful, but it is most 
difficult, in matters so complex as life 
and thought, to take any one concept 
that might embrace adequately the 
whole. Holism - the theory of the 
whole - tries to emphasise one aspect 
of thought that has been hitherto a 
neglected factor. I am trying to 
hammer out this neglected factor, 
which is, to my mind, all important in 
getting the "synoptic vision"! 



After the First World War there was, 
even more than in the pre-war years of 
intense, morbid nationalism, the same 
problem in holism. "I think the League 
of Nations is a genuine effort in 
reconstructing the broken front of 
European civilisation, of once more 
reforming unity out of division and 
discord. The American word 'league' 



was hardly the correct one. I prefer the 
French word 'society'. The phrase 
'Society of Nations' seems to me to 
bring out the points essential to the 
unity of spirit which that 'Society of 
Nations' seeks to produce. 

"In the years to come when people 
look back on the changes in our 
human attitude, they will probably say 
the greatest change has been wrought, 
not by these events, but by science. 
Science has proved the greatest 
constructive force in the world, but it 
had also proved the greatest 
destructive agent. Our world of ideas 
had been practically shattered by the 
changes in science. What was needed 
was the elaboration of ideas to help the 
world to get back once more to a sane 
and wise road." 

He thought the most notable change 
science had made in the world of ideas 



was the idea of creative evolution. It 
meant a fundamental change in our 
outiook. We had all been brought up 
to look upon the world as something 
ready-made and completed and 
moving forward as a fixed, rigid 
entity. Science had shattered that idea 
and shown that the world was far from 
rigid. It was a growing, creative 
universe, a world in a state of flux 
with increases in all directions. 

The realisation of that concept would 
mean a complete metamorphosis in 
our outlook in life. That change was 
embracing the world in all its many 
details. There was nothing constant 
about its components. The Universe 
changed and grew and developed, just 
like a human being. You realised that 
the world at bottom was not substance 
but flexible changing patterns. 



Time and space had changed their 
character and become flexible. Only 
ratios still appeared to be constant. 
Matter had gone by transformation 
into energy. Only patterns and 
structures remained. 

"If you take patterns as the ultimate 
structure of the world, if it is 
arrangements and not stuff that make 
up the world, the new concept leads 
you to the concept of wholes. Wholes 
have no stuff; they are arrangements. 
Science has come round to the view 
that the world consists of patterns, and 
I construe that to be that the world 
consists of wholes." 

The wholes and parts formed and 
shaped each other. Yet the whole was 
greater than the sum of its parts. 
Human personality was the highest 
whole. A man shaped all his thoughts, 
all his actions by the whole in him, his 



personality. At the same time the parts 
had influenced the whole in him by 
mutual service and adaptation. 

Switching the argument from man to 
dead things the same principle must 
apply. The idea that matter was 
determined by its elements must be 
abandoned. 

The effect of this change in point of 
view is far reaching. In philosophy it 
is difficult to estimate values: the 
beauty, the truth, the goodness of 
things. They seem to be additional to 
the substance of things. On the other 
hand, if you adopt the idea of patterns, 
you get away from substance and get 
patterns in which truth, goodness, 
beauty and value become bound up in 
the nature of things. To be a whole is 
to be real... 



The world consists of a rising series of 
wholes. You start with matter, which 
is the simplest of wholes. You then 
rise to plants and animals, to mind, to 
human beings, to personality and the 
spiritual world. This progression of 
wholes, rising tier upon tier, makes up 
the structure of the universe. 

This reasoning must effect the concept 
of causality. The present theory was 
that there was equality between cause 
and effect. If that were so the world 
would now be just as simple as in the 
beginning. Holism postulated that 
slightly more was produced in the 
effect than was contained in the 
antecedent causes. If this were so, it 
would necessitate a re-writing of the 
laws of logic. The universe of today 
was bigger than that of long ago. By 
an infinity of increments this 



additional building and creation was 
continuing. 

Wholes are the very basis of reality. 
Matter is more than it appears, for in it 
there is a pattern, a whole which is its 
very inmost nature. "That explains 
how it is possible for matter to 
blossom into such forms as mind and 
life." 

He spoke also of the peace of mind his 
theory produced: 

We find, instead of the hostility which 
is felt in life, that this is a friendly 
universe. We are all inter-related. The 
one helps the other. It is an idea that 
gives strength and peace and is bound 
to give a more wholesome view of life 
and nature than we have had so far. 

Wholeness is the key to thought, and 
when we take that view we shall be 



able to read much more of the riddle of 
the universe. 



In July, 1948, my father replied to 
Professor Adolf Meyer-Abich, the 
well-known German philosopher of 
Hamburg, who had written to him at 
length about Holism: 

At the present moment I can do 
nothing about Holism. My political 
responsibilities at my age [78] are so 
heavy that I cannot find time for the 
revision of the old book, nor the 
writing of the new book which has 
been simmering in my mind for some 
years. When I look at the world unrest 
today and the confusion which 
prevails in science, in philosophy, in 
religion and in our whole human 
outlook and set-up, I feel more and 
more that in the concept of Holism we 
have the key to many a door, and the 



way to ultimate solutions. Something 
holistic is at the heart of things and in 
the nature of this universe, which is 
not a mere chance or random 
assemblement of items. The detailed 
things derive most of their meaning, 
significance and functioning from the 
whole of which they are but the parts. 
They are not mere parts but really 
members of wholes. Both as a 
metaphysical and as a scientific 
concept the whole is basic to an under- 
standing of the world. And in 
sociology and religion this is more 
clearly the case. Relativity is only a 
halfway house to this more 
fundamental concept. 

This being my conviction, you will 
realise how much importance I attach 
to Holism, and how anxious I am to 
give the concept a further push 
forward. But at present I can do 



nothing about it... My political 
position in South Africa, and to a less 
extent in the world, is such that I 
cannot say goodbye to that aspect of 
my work. But I still hope against hope 
to return to Holism at the end... 

Please give no further thought to a 
degree for me from the Hamburg 
University. I thank you for the kind 
thought, but I have already so many 
honours, and do not wish for more at 
my time of life. 

I feel deeply concerned about the 
world position, and not least about 
Germany, which is at the heart of the 
European, and indeed the human 
problems facing us today. No more 
critical situation has faced the world in 
all history. 

Questions on the private religious 
feelings of people are always difficult, 



for the simple reason that we often 
find it hard to analyse our own beliefs. 
To fathom my father's ideas on 
religion and a Superior Being has 
always been a problem. If one were to 
judge by the extent he read the Bible, 
one might assume that he was of a 
pious disposition, in the lay sense of 
the word. But that would be an over- 
simplification, for he read the Bible as 
a gem of literature and wisdom and as 
a saga of family life of distant days. 

Whether he believed in God depends 
on the implications of the question. He 
certainly did not believe in a 
supernatural being in the form of a 
man, or the narrow definition of the 
Jehovah of the Israelites. But he did 
believe in some deity, some overall 
holistic personality, some supreme law 
that controls the destiny of all in the 
realms of space. In essence this is a 



broader interpretation than that of the 
Old Testament, but is it in reality, not 
just the same idea grown more 
comprehensive? 

The New Testament he preferred to 
read in Greek, again as a classic of 
language and a study of people. That 
Christ had actually lived he had no 
doubt, but he thought of him as a very 
remarkably gifted young man, rather 
than as the Immaculate Son of God. 
Few people have studied the New 
Testament more meticulously, and 
hence few, he said, realise just how 
short the active phase of Christ's 
career was. It must be a difficult study, 
for it took him years to unravel the 
details to his satisfaction. He was 
always thinking of the problem of 
Personality and of Christ as the 
Greatest Personality. The world could 
only advance through the efforts of the 



Greatest Personality and. he pondered 
over the genius of Christ continually. 

As a person who prized the intellectual 
qualities of man well above his more 
bovine attributes, it goes without 
saying that my father placed great 
store on education. It was this factor, 
he said, which distinguished man, the 
pinnacle product of evolution, from 
the beasts of the fields. Education 
should have as broad a base as 
possible, with considerable leavenings 
of the humanities, arts and classics. It 
was the function of education to teach 
people how to think, not what to think. 
It should not consist of a parrot-like 
cramming of facts and figures. Rather 
should it emphasise the appreciation of 
these facts and figures. And it should 
include a training on how to seek 
detail from works of reference. History 
should be studied not in the narrow 



national sense, but as a study of past 
events from which we might learn 
lessons and avoid pitfalls. 
Mathematics should introduce an idea 
of orderliness as well as proportion 
and perspective. Latin should envisage 
life in the Roman times rather than 
declensions and conjugations. 
Geography should stress the oneness 
of the human race and science a poetry 
of the Universe. All are inseparably 
intermixed. Education is universal. 

And with education, he grouped the 
need to foster hobbies. They were not 
only a great source of interest and 
education, but kept off the deadening 
hand of boredom which seemed to 
overtake so many old people. 



52 : Hertzog Government 

In Hertzog's 1924 Cabinet the Labour 
Party got two portfolios, Creswell 
taking on Labour and Defence, and 
Boydell Posts and Telegraphs and 
Public Works. The other Cabinet 
positions were filled by Tielman Roos 
who took over justice; Charlie Malan, 
Railways; Beyers, Mines; the two 
gentlemen of the 1913 Rebellion, 
Kemp and Piet Grobler, took on 
Agriculture and Lands respectively. 
Dr. Malan administered Education, 
Public Health and Interior. All the old 
friends were now rewarded. 

If my father had been great in victory, 
there are many who now conceded that 
he was at least as great in eclipse. As 
the years went by, even his opponents 
had, grudgingly, to admit that he had 
that divine spark. 



He had now moved across the floor of 
the House to the seat of the Leader of 
the Opposition. His attendance was 
scrupulous, and early or late, dull or 
bitter, he was always to be found in his 
place. In demeanour he did not appear 
buoyant or happy, giving the impres- 
sion more of serving a penance. It was 
no more than an impression, for in fact 
his thoughts and moods were well 
controlled and almost inscrutable. He 
simply sat there, impassive and un- 
ruffled, usually alert, but otherwise 
with his eye focussed vaguely into the 
unseeing distance. Never did he show 
that great hurt and humiliation which 
he harboured in his bosom. His burn- 
ing pride would never permit that. 

The Government were jubilant at their 
victory and did their best to rub it in. 
As usual, they concentrated, in repre- 
hensible manner, on the person of my 



father. He took it all without complaint 
or the flicker of an eyelid. Only the 
impatient drumming of his slender 
fingers or the way he kept folding and 
unfolding his hands showed his mental 
tension. So bitter were the attacks on 
him that the Speaker had frequently to 
call honourable members to order. 
Roos and Hertzog were the chief 
offenders. 

This amateur jobs-for-pals govern- 
ment, my father had predicted, would 
not last long. But he had, for once, 
miscalculated, for hardly had they 
come into power when the dark clouds 
began to lift. Virtually the best rains 
for a generation soaked the earth, and 
the world depression was turning into 
a time of plenty. New discoveries of 
platinum in the Transvaal brought a 
measure of relief. Not only was 
Hertzog lucky, but his Minister of 



Finance was also to earn the nickname 
"Lucky Havenga". 

The Prince of Wales, who had 
arranged to visit the Union during the 
Premiership of my father, now did a 
triumphal tour of the country. His 
treatment by the Nationalists left 
nothing to be desired and they feted 
him everywhere. Quite a major boom 
was brought about by his visit. The 
Athlones brought him out to Doorn- 
kloof, where he was interested in our 
pedigree dairy herd. 

When he left the Union, Arthur 
Barlow, then a Labourite, suggested in 
Parliament that the King be requested 
to refrain from conferring titles on 
people after the Prince's visit. Hertzog 
and the Nationalists supported this 
suggestion and it broadened into the 
banning of all titles for South 
Africans. My father did not oppose the 



idea. It had much to commend it. In 
Parliament many matters that were 
controversial and contentious were 
discussed. In one speech lasting an 
hour and a quarter Hertzog spent 
almost all his time attacking my father, 
and a reporter in the Press Gallery 
counted at least twenty different 
uncomplimentary adjectives he had 
coupled with my father's name. 

Oswald Pirow placed a big order for 
locomotives for the railways with 
Germany, an act which met with the 
strongest disapproval from the South 
African Party. For years Britain had 
made all our locos. 

Next, in 1927, cropped up the Flag 
Question. The Nationalists had no 
particular love for the Union Jack and 
decided that, as an independent domin- 
ion, it was time we had our own flag. 
Now, while this was a seemingly small 



matter, it cut deep into the sentiments 
of people, especially as the whole idea 
was obviously tinged with animus. 
Feeling mounted, during the debates, 
and irresponsible people were even 
talking of civil trouble. The difficulty 
was to arrange an acceptable compro- 
mise. The English were firm in 
demanding a prominent place for the 
Union Jack in the flag, while at the 
same time the Nationalists were press- 
ing equally hard for a dominance of 
the old Republican motifs. Every 
member of Parliament, and the public, 
became flag-drafters, but efforts were 
all too elaborate and complicated. So 
was my father's effort. At last, just as 
stalemate was about to overtake the 
House, the Governor-General initiated 
a final effort, which proved accept- 
able. 



At the next Imperial Conference 
General Hertzog decided to press for a 
clearer recognition of the indepen- 
dence of members of the British 
Commonwealth. In London these 
views on Dominion status seemed 
acceptable, though my father was 
critical of what he called the weaken- 
ing of certain bonds that tied this 
commonwealth of nations together. 
Statesmanship in Britain was at a low 
ebb and my father was nervous of 
what might follow. 

At a meeting in Paarl General Hertzog 
told his audience: "As a result of what 
the imperial Conference has done, 
nothing remains of the Old Empire." 
He declared in Parliament that in the 
case of war the right of remaining 
neutral rested with every individual 
Dominion. My father did not consider 
this practicable. "I doubt", he said, 



"whether such an interpretation would 
be finally and definitely acceptable." 
A dozen years later these views were 
to be put to the practical test. 

Next the Government steam-rollered 
through a very much criticised trade 
agreement with Germany. The pro- 
German element was very strong in 
Government circles. At this stage the 
Labour Party had domestic trouble, 
which resulted in a split into Creswel- 
lite and National Councilite factions. 
Walter Madeley became Minister of 
Posts and Telegraphs. His views were 
rather far to the Left, and one of his 
first acts was to raise native wages. 
Anything of this nature was to the 
Nationalists like a red rag to a bull. 
They clamoured for his resignation, 
but he stubbornly refused. Finally 
Hertzog himself resigned and was 



called upon to form a new Cabinet, in 
which Madeley did not reappear. 

The 1929 elections were approaching. 
My father made a Pan- African type of 
speech at Ermelo, in which he suggest- 
ed a great federation of states, extend- 
ing over a large part of Africa. The 
Nationalists, as ever on the lookout for 
something to distort, seized upon this. 
Tielman Roos, aided by General 
Hertzog, issued the "Black Mani- 
festo"; a piece of evergreen colour 
propaganda. "Smuts wants a Kaffir 
State in which we are to be members," 
he croaked -" a black hegemony in 
which we are all to be on an equal 
footing." 

At political meetings an element of 
organised hooliganism prevailed and 
frequently my father was shouted 
down without a hearing. Missiles flew 
freely and rowdyism and unruly 



behaviour were the order of the day. 
Often the windows of halls were 
smashed and chairs battered, resulting 
in considerable damage. The country 
grew quite accustomed to these 
Nationalist methods. 

Townspeople were not worried by this 
warped type of propaganda, but the 
gullible public of the country districts 
believed that a vote for the South 
African Party meant equality with the 
natives. Consequently, when the elec- 
tion occurred my father's Party took a 
bad beating. Hertzog secured 78 seats 
against our 61. 

The Pact Cabinet was now reorga- 
nised. Roos retired, ostensibly for 
health reasons, and went overseas for 
treatment, and Pirow took his place in 
justice. We had already had numerous 
apologists in the Cabinet for Germany 



before, but now we had a person who 
was openly pro-Nazi. 



53 : The Rhodes Lectures At 
Oxford 

At the end of 1929, during the 
Michaelmas term, my father went to 
Oxford to deliver a series of Rhodes 
Lectures. He also lectured on David 
Livingstone. This trip to England was 
a welcome break from the bitterness 
and tedium of Parliament. The stipend 
of £500 also afforded an essential and 
welcome element of financial relief. 
He spent two months at the University. 
In these lectures he set out his ideas on 
the Native Problem clearly and 
concisely. It was a faithful and 
authoritative presentation, but the 
students, like many people in England, 
had their own strange ideas about the 
natives and largely failed to appreciate 
his lectures. Few were really 
enthusiastic, while the outright Negro- 
phils were frankly disappointed. 



Otherwise the visit, like all previous 
ones, was a triumphal one, for the 
English hearts never failed to warm to 
this doughty old Boer. In Edinburgh 
and Glasgow he lectured to large 
audiences on David Livingstone. 

His work in Britain completed, he 
accepted an invitation to attend the 
Tenth Annual Meeting of the League 
of Nations in New York, and later to 
travel the States and Canada on a 
lecture tour on League matters. He had 
long looked forward to such a trip, but 
this was the first occasion on which he 
could spare the time. 

The Press showered him with 
bouquets. By some he was described 
as the greatest living statesman. He 
was loaded with civic honours and 
honorary university degrees. In no 
time he had endeared himself to the 
Americans. They were amazed at his 



intimate knowledge of their Country, 
and even more so by his knowledge of 
their writers Poe, Irving and Whitman. 
He received the honours modestly, 
protesting that he was just a simple 
Boer farmer. 

The severe monolithic architecture of 
the New York skyscrapers impressed 
him more as a form of human 
ingenuity than an exposition of 
architectural beauty. It would have 
been too much to expect the contem- 
plation of a troglodytic mode of living 
to exercise his enthusiasm. But the 
farming developments interested him 
immensely. It was all so well planned 
and on such a mammoth scale, and 
quite unlike the mediaeval methods of 
his homeland. 

His welcome in New York was a 
boisterous one and he never forgot the 
overhead snowstorm of ticker tape and 



confetti as he drove down the deep 
ravines of the city. It was different 
from other experiences. 

He travelled through the States and 
Canada, lecturing about the League. 
Everywhere he was received with 
enthusiasm. It was an exacting, non- 
stop tour, which left him exhausted but 
happy. 

The Hearst papers were critical of his 
presence in America. "Why should we 
harbour these foreign 'peace' 
propagandists?" The Negroes loved 
him until he indiscreetly, but with the 
best intentions in the world, happened 
to remark that they were "the most 
patient creatures next to the ass". He 
had offered this remark in sincere 
praise of that most commendable side 
of the black man's make-up, but it 
gave offence. 



In the Southern Hotel in Baltimore, on 
the 16th January, 1930, he made these 
remarks: "... I have passed through 
many things in my life. I am not a 
pacifist, and I have not come to the 
peace movement as a pacifist. I have 
always believed, and I believe today, 
that there are greater things than 
peace, that there are ideals of justice, 
of fair play, of right, for which any 
decent human being ought to be 
prepared to give his life at any 
moment. Certain ideals, certain 
convictions transcend questions of life 
and death..." 

Regarding the value of round table 
conferences he had this to say: 



... Since there is a human family, 
gather them, with all their troubles, 
around the family table. I want the 
disputes of mankind in the future, the 



troubles that arise and lead to war, to 
be treated in the family spirit. Gather 
them around the table. Don't let them 
look askance at each other. Don't let 
them frown at each other at a distance. 
Don't let them negotiate at a distance. 
Let them gather round the table, 
members of one family, in the family 
spirit. 

Well, that is what the League of 
Nations has done. The League of 
Nations is the family table. You may 
not like it. I know some of you don't 
like it at all, and I am not here to 
convert you. It is for you to decide. I 
cannot speak to you as freely as Dr. 
Duggan. He can speak to you as an 
American, from the fullness of his 
conviction. I can only speak to you as 
a world citizen. You have to decide in 
your own national wisdom as to your 
national course and policy in the 



future. I can only bear testimony from 
the outside as a man who does not 
wish to indulge in propaganda in a 
foreign country, but who holds to faith 
in the human race and points the awful 
lessons of the Great War... 

... That we have today fifty-four 
nations of the world, almost all of 
them sitting around that table, is 
probably the greatest advance which 
has been made in the whole course of 
human history. It is a wonderful thing. 
Eleven years ago these nations were 
gripped in the most titanic death 
struggle in history. They were killing 
each other by the million. Today they 
are sitting around the table... 

In the Basil Hicks Lecture delivered to 
the University of Sheffield in October, 
1931, he expounded further on the 
"disarmed peace": 



... I do not say that disarmament is the 
only road to peace. It is not the only 
step to be taken to ensure world peace. 
The maintenance of peace is a very 
complex affair which will depend 
upon many conditions. You cannot, 
for instance, have peace in a world in 
which there is no social justice; no 
honour and respect and high courtesy 
among the nations. Nor can you have 
peace for long in a world of chaos, in 
which each nation is a law unto itself, 
in which the supranational interests of 
mankind are not organised into 
definite institutions, in which the 
society of nations is not 
constitutionally recognised and does 
not find organised expression. Thus, 
firstly, there must be a rule of justice 
and fair play; secondly, there must be 
a permanent institution continuously 
controlling its application; and thirdly, 



the means and temptation to use 
private force must be carefully limited 
and controlled. These are the essential 
conditions of good order within the 
State; and they are no less essential 
foundations of international order and 
peace. Let us see how we stand at 
present in regard to these three 
conditions of peace. . . . 

[Speaking of disarmament, he went 
on] ... This is beyond all doubt the 
greatest and heaviest task before the 
League. That task is now confronting 
it in all its grimness. In February next 
year, the Disarmament Conference 
will meet, and it is felt on all hands 
that it is fraught with fateful issues for 
the League, if not for the world. If that 
Conference fails-which God forbid - 
the whole hopeful international 
situation which has been arising since 
the Peace will receive a setback. It is a 



thousand pities that the League is 
called to such an ordeal in its very 
infancy. If it were firmly in the saddle, 
if it had established its authority 
beyond question, the case would be 
different. But it is no more than an 
infant yet, it has barely begun its long 
career for the leadership of the world, 
it may yet take a generation or more 
before it will be sure of itself. And 
now at the very beginning, the 
heaviest task is laid upon it. And the 
present time and temper appear 
unfavourable for settling the vast issue 
of Disarmament. Well might the 
young League say with Hamlet; 

"The time is out of joint; O cursed 

spite 

That ever I was born to set it 

right." 

Personally I take a more hopeful and 
perhaps longer view of the situation 



which confronts the League. It would 
be a cruel and fatal mistake to expect 
the impossible from the Disarmament 
Conference, and then, if it fails to 
realise the highest expectations, to 
give up all as lost. Disarmament is not 
going to be carried at one bound, so to 
say, and it would be foolish to expect 
such a result of the coming Confer- 
ence. I do not believe the Armageddon 
of Peace is going to be fought out at 
that Conference. That is not the way of 
history. I believe that a beginning is 
going to be made, a great first step will 
be taken, which will be continuously 
followed up until the ghost of the past, 
the spectre of war, is finally laid. 
Disarmament will not be a matter for 
one conference, but for many 
conferences, and for continuous 
unwearied effort, prolonged perhaps 
for decades to come, until the great 



vision is realised and swords are 
finally beaten into ploughshares. Of 
the final result I feel as confident as I 
am of the League itself. But it may 
take many long years before mankind 
is ripe for that final step... 

Why should we disarm? There are 
several cogent and indeed imperative 
reasons for this step, which cannot be 
delayed any longer without the gravest 
risks. We have, to begin with, the 
obligations created by the Peace 
Treaties and the Covenant of the 
League. The Versailles Treaty, for 
instance, in imposing compulsory 
disarmament on Germany, expressly 
provided in the opening clause of Part 
V that that was only the first step in a 
general scheme o' disarmament which 
it would be necessary to carry out in 
future in the interests of mankind. 
When the German delegates protested 



against the drastic measure of 
disarmament imposed on Germany, 
the Allied spokesmen renewed the 
assurance that it was only the 
preliminary to a great scheme of 
disarmament which would affect all. 
These assurances and undertakings 
constitute an obligation which it is 
impossible to evade much longer. But 
that is not all. Even if no assurance 
had been expressly given to Germany 
in the Peace Treaty, the inherent 
anomaly which has been created by 
her exceptional disarmament would 
call for early action. Germany, the 
greatest potential power on the 
Continent of Europe, sits on the 
Council of the League as one of the 
Great Powers. She is disarmed while 
the others are fully armed. Her status 
is affected, she a placed in a position 
of inferiority among her equals. The 



question raised is thus not merely one 
of disarmament, but of status, of 
equality among the Powers. It must be 
clear that the present position is in- 
herently untenable, and that unless a 
beginning is made with the policy of 
disarmament, Germany could and 
might claim the right to arm herself 
once more, and might decline to sit 
among her peers in the League as an 
inferior. The question of allowing 
Germany to re-arm would raise even 
more difficult and dangerous issues 
than the question of general 
disarmament, and thus the anomaly of 
the present untenable position in 
Europe and in the League is forcing us 
to take a step, which we are in any 
case in honour bound to take, in order 
to carry out our assurances and 
undertakings under the Peace Treaty. 
We know what an armed Germany 



means, and we dare not run that risk 
again. In this connection, may I 
express the hope that German 
statesmen will never succumb to the 
temptation to renew the race of 
armaments and thereby to court the 
dangers of her former position again? 



In settling the details of disarmament 
policy, I think the growing 
consideration should be the 
importance of securing the lag to 
which I have referred earlier. 
Armaments should be such that the 
conversion of the fighting forces from 
a peace to a war footing should 
definitely involve an interval of time, 
during which the peace functions of 
the League could operate, freely and 
effectively... 

To conclude. The generation before us 
tried the novel experiment of the 



Armed Peace, the maintenance of 
peace through superarmaments, 
coupled with alliances and the balance 
of power. It proved the most disastrous 
step in the history of our race. Let us, 
grown wiser from experience, try the 
converse experiment of the Disarmed 
Peace, coupled with a universal 
organisation in support of it. We could 
not fare worse, and with reasonably 
good fortune, we may achieve a 
measure of success which would 
justify all the labours and sufferings of 
the past. 

In America in 1929 he made his 
famous declaration in favour of a 
Jewish Home in Palestine. There had 
at the time been some friction between 
the Jews and Arabs in the Holy Land. 
He spoke of the wonderful services of 
Jewry throughout the course of time 
and of the great debt of humanity to 



them. He spoke of the promises at 
Versailles. Palestine was theirs to go 
back to. Britain had been a party to 
this solemn vow. 

My father had always looked upon the 
Jewish problem as a great human 
problem. With his knowledge of the 
Old Testament, and of the history of 
the Jews and their historic 
persecutions he felt a warm sympathy 
with the Jewish cause. His concept of 
a home in Palestine was a legalistic 
and humanitarian one. He thought of 
the Jews not as a people, or a chosen 
race, but as a cause. As a people it 
would be incorrect to say that he liked 
them more than other peoples, for he 
was in fact a lover of all humanity. 
Jewry will long remember the services 
of this man for them, often in the teeth 
of the strongest opposition. A rich new 
settlement, not far from Haifa, Ramat 



Jochanan, is named after him in 
recognition of his work. 

On board ship on the way back to 
South Africa he learned that the Quota 
Bill had been introduced into 
Parliament during his absence. It was 
aimed at curbing the rapid influx of 
Jews into the Union. It seemed a 
desirable protective measure at the 
time as many of the immigrants were 
of a very low type and hardly desirable 
as citizens. The Jews were specifically 
named in the Bill, which was also 
intended to limit immigration from the 
Central European States. 

My father arrived back in Parliament 
during the Third Reading of the Bill. 
His Party had given it almost 
unanimous support. He raged at them 
and took them so to task, that during 
the final division they voted to a man 
against it. Here again, he was sup- 



porting a legalistic principle, not a 
people. It was a case of justice. 



54 : Native Problem 

Though the problem of mixed 
populations is not a new one in 
history, it nevertheless presents certain 
novel aspects in South Africa and the 
rest of the continent. Normally it takes 
the form of a minority living in the 
midst of an overwhelming mass of 
other people, often under conditions of 
some disability. Here in South Africa, 
however, the small minority of whites 
live not under the normal conditions of 
sufferance, but actually rule the 
majority with an iron hand. They have 
retained in their possession full 
initiative in so far as tactical power 
and intellectual advantage is 
concerned and they have clung aggres- 
sively to what they consider their 
rights in wealth and leadership. The 
native, so far, has accepted quite 
willingly the overlordship of the white 



man, for he has freely admitted their 
mental superiority. He has been quite 
contented in this acceptance, for it has 
long been the tradition in native 
custom for him to serve 
unquestioningly some authority, 
whether it be a black potentate or a 
white master. Now that the white man 
has introduced the poll tax and pro- 
hibited the old tribal pastime of pillage 
and war, he has been forced to forsake 
his beer and his blanket for the 
location and the factory. Few people 
realise what a revolution in custom 
this has involved, for traditionally the 
native male is a warrior who does no 
manual work other than fighting. 
When not so occupied he was content 
to laze happily on a kaross outside his 
hut, to drink his beer and to sleep off 
his torpor, while his poor wives, like 
beasts of burden, tilled the fields and 



kept his home. It was the ingrained 
custom of the centuries. After all, 
husbands bought wives with cattle in 
marriage and it was only reasonable 
that wives should serve as beasts of 
burden. The fact that they were often 
pregnant and always had little 
piccanins strapped to their backs was 
quite incidental. 

When the white man came to the 
country he very unreasonably 
demanded that the lazy warriors 
should work - the very work they had 
for millennia forced their wives to do. 
He brought with him, also, a system of 
monetary remuneration which did not 
involve the accepted standard of the 
cow. He taught them the rudiments of 
Christianity which said we were all 
equal under the sun, yet this teaching 
was scrupulously disregarded by him. 
He frowned upon the native 



polygamous system which completely 
upset the system of the pastoral kraal, 
and he applied a legal code which 
seemed to the natives mild and 
anaemic by comparison to their own. 
He interfered constantly and broke 
down the authority of the chief and 
routine of the home, and yet he was 
annoyed when the black man, 
degenerated to the ways of the white, 
did not show him gratitude for all 
these not-unmixed blessings. 

The white man came out to South 
Africa not merely to missionise and to 
settle on a trusteeship basis. He made 
it clear he had come to stay. For three 
hundred years he has been here and he 
is determined to stay indefinitely. But 
with the advancement of civilisation 
and gradual evolution of the native the 
gap between white and black has 
narrowed alarmingly. It is doubtful if 



the old master-servant relationship 
will be tenable for many more years to 
come. The white man sees a grave 
danger for his children. The black man 
thinks he sees the days of 
emancipation approaching. Both are 
straining to further their ambitions. 
Troublemongers and agitators, mostly 
half-educated natives, some Indians 
and a few misguided whites, are at 
work among the native masses. They 
use persuasive words and draw 
illuminating, over-simplified com- 
parisons. The gullible native is not 
proof against this insidious 
propaganda. He is growing restive and 
unhappy. It is idle to maintain that this 
phase of unrest is the result of poor 
housing conditions. It goes much 
deeper than that, for it is in fact a 
national madness, a surging phase of 
unrest. 



Different people read the signs 
differently. The philanthropist 
advocates the granting of numerous 
further concessions. The dour Boer 
farmer of the Platteland feels that 
harsher measures and a sterner white 
front are the only solutions. 
International bodies from overseas, 
most notably at UNO, quite ignorant 
of the true facts of the case, are loud in 
their condemnation of the white man. 
But so far South Africa has refused to 
be browbeaten by this criticism. 

The native problem in South Africa 
differs from that in the United States, 
for there the whites outnumber the 
negroes by almost twenty to one. 
Under those circumstances people can 
afford to be broad-minded and 
tolerant. Here the white man, at a four 
to one disadvantage, has to struggle 



for his existence, and the future for his 
children is ever uncertain. 

Segregation, both racial and 
geographical, is a strong urge in both 
the white, the black and the coloured 
peoples here. They have studiously 
abhorred fraternisation and 

hybridisation and each has faithfully 
bred his own pure type. This in itself is 
a unique feature in history, and even 
more so in colonial history. I am not 
concerning myself here with the 
political doctrine of "apartheid". I am 
referring to the separateness which is 
inherent in the feelings of all white 
and black men. 

What then are the basic facts of this 
insoluble Native Problem? The 
problem may be viewed from three 
different angles. There is firstly the 
ethical approach which purports to 
show that all men are equal. It is the 



old philanthropic outlook of the Bible. 
Apart from displaying an honest 
though over-easy outlook it has little 
realism to commend it. Its basis of 
reciprocity of goodwill is a fictitious 
one as far as the native is concerned, 
and anthropologists are quick to point 
out that the native has no gratitude in 
his social code. It is a weakness 
unknown to him. He will take all he 
can get quite gladly, and then blithely 
ask for more. There is no convincing 
argument based on sound fact, so far 
as I can see, to back up this ethical 
approach. It is simply a noble white 
urge to see fair play. The idea of 
equality is based upon shifting sands, 
and in fact the native is wise enough 
not to ask for it. All he asks for is 
unhampered opportunity. 

The second approach is the scientific 
one in which are automatically 



visualised grades of evolutionary 
advancement. It is easy for us to do so 
in South Africa, for we have had 
before us that arrested type in 
anthropological development known 
as the Bushman, like the Australian 
aborigine, a freak survival from some 
primitive age. We have never accorded 
this small evolutionary enigma an 
equal status. Nor has the native. 

It is therefore not difficult to imagine 
the Bantu an intermediate form 
between the European and Bushman. 
In fact, from the scientific aspect it has 
much to commend it, for undoubtedly 
the Bantu has features in his bone 
structure that we associate with Stone 
Age races. His very skull, for example, 
is almost half as thick again as that of 
the European. Yet, so far, study of his 
brain size and convolutions has not 
shown an inferiority to the European. 



But certainly the massiveness of the 
facial bone structure suggests a 
connection with the old Neander- 
thaloid group of man. 

Thirdly there is the tactical approach. 
It takes into account that the white 
man in the Union is outnumbered by 
four to one. It takes into account the 
fact that the black man is increasing in 
numbers more rapidly than the white 
man. It assumes that two peoples 
cannot indefinitely go on living side 
by side without some major future 
eruption. For this day of reckoning we 
must prepare. We must see that we 
have in our power all those things 
which can ensure tactical and military 
superiority. We must prohibit non- 
Europeans from possessing firearms, 
or the training in their use. 
Manufacturing industry, wealth and 
education must be kept in white hands. 



All these add up to military strength. 
We must frown upon trade unionism 
amongst the Bantu or upon the forma- 
tion of political bodies, for that leads 
to potentially dangerous consolidation. 
The emotional fear complex is not to 
be misconstrued with these military 
prerequisites. 

Lastly we must take into account the 
divergent views held on the native 
problem by the English and Boer 
races. Broadly the British outlook is 
one of goodwill and tolerance, 
however misguided and over- 
emphasised it may seem at times. The 
Boer, after centuries of fighting for a 
foothold in this country, takes a sterner 
view of things. He is far less tolerant 
or sympathetic. 

In arriving at a settlement of the native 
problem due cognisance must be taken 
of these divergent views. Some 



compromise must be reached, and 
depending upon the government of the 
day, it may be well-disposed or not so 
friendly towards the natives. 

The native policy of governments in 
South Africa is not the policy of 
political parties. It is the actual policy 
of people, based upon their deep 
convictions. Parliament cannot change 
the relationship simply by a stroke of 
the pen. It has first to convince and 
convert public opinion. Mostly public 
opinion has been hard against granting 
too many concessions. 

From old Adam at Riebeeck West my 
father learned to know and to respect 
the native. From his scientific 
knowledge of anthropology he got the 
idea of gradations in the scale of 
evolution. His sound reasoning powers 
never allowed sentimentalism to 
obtrude. From his Boer forebears he 



inherited the harder Boer viewpoint 
And from his legalistic studies ideas of 
justice and fairness. His general kindly 
outlook on life broadened that into an 
outlook of sane tolerance. Yet he 
looked upon over-liberal views on the 
colour question as extremely 
dangerous. 

My father had complete confidence in 
the intellectual and administrative 
superiority of the white man. He was 
convinced that, come what will, these 
would sec him safely through all 
trouble. It would also enable him to 
live indefinitely in a state of semi- 
overlordship over the blacks. He 
considered this mental superiority the 
white man's greatest asset. He had 
great faith in the inherent stability and 
good faith of the Bantu and was a 
strong advocate of breaking down 
their local tribal customs as little as 



possible. He did not favour the 
artificial half-baked white ideas we are 
foisting upon them. 

Nor was he an advocate of over-hasty 
artificial advancement. Civilisation he 
believed to be a slow process which 
should be over accelerated only at 
peril. He preferred to see the natives 
building slowly but solidly. This is 
also in line with the tactical concept. 

In the Rhodes Memorial lectures at 
Oxford University in 1929 he gave a 
lucid exposition of his views on the 
native problem which is worth quoting 
in some detail: 

We are concerned today with these 
racial reactions in so far as they affect 
Europe and Africa - a small question, 
but still a very large human question, 
fraught with immense possibilities for 
the future of our civilisation as well as 



that of Africa. What is wanted in 
Africa today is a wise, far-sighted 
native policy. If we could evolve and 
pursue a policy which will promote 
the cause of civilisation in Africa 
without injustice to the African, 
without injury to what is typical and 
specific in the African, we shall render 
a great service to the cause of 
humanity. For there is much that is 
good in the African which ought to be 
preserved and developed... 

Here in this vast continent, with its 
wide geographical variety and great 
climatic difference, this unique human 
type has been fixing itself for 
hundreds of years... This type has 
some wonderful characteristics. It has 
largely remained a child type, with a 
child psychology and outlook. A 
child-like human cannot be a bad 
human... Perhaps, as a direct result of 



this temperament the African is the 
only happy human I have come across. 
No other race is so easily satisfied, so 
good-tempered, so carefree. If this had 
not been the case, it could scarcely 
have survived the intolerable evils 
which have weighed on it like a 
nightmare through the ages. A race 
which could survive the immemorial 
practice of the witch doctor and slave 
trader, and preserve its inherent 
simplicity and sweetness of 
disposition, must have some very fine 
moral qualities. The African easily 
forgets past troubles and does not 
anticipate future troubles. This happy- 
go-lucky disposition is a great asset, 
but it also has its drawbacks. 

There is no inward incentive to 
improvement, there is no persistent 
effort in construction, and there is 
complete absorption in the present, its 



joys and sorrows... No indigenous 
religion has been evolved, no 
literature, no art since the magnificent 
promise of the cavemen and the South 
African petroglyphist, no architecture 
since Zimbabwe (if that is African) ... 
They can stand any amount of physical 
hardships and suffering... These 
children have not the inner toughness 
and persistence of the European, nor 
those social and moral incentives to 
progress... But they have a 
temperament which suits mother 
Africa. 

It is clear that a race so unique and so 
different in its mentality and its 
cultures from those of Europe, requires 
a policy very unlike that which would 
suit Europeans. Nothing could be 
worse for Africa than the application 
of a policy, the object or tendency of 
which would be to destroy the basis of 



the African type, to de-Africanise the 
African and turn him either into a 
beast of the field or into a pseudo- 
European. And yet in the past we have 
tried both alternatives in our dealings 
with the African. First we look upon 
the African as essentially inferior or 
sub-human, as having no soul, as 
being only fit to be a slave. As a slave 
he became an article of commerce, and 
the greatest article of export from this 
continent for centuries... 

Then we changed to the opposite 
extreme. The African now became a 
man and a brother. Religion and 
politics combined to shape this new 
African policy... The political system 
of the natives was ruthlessly destroyed 
in order to incorporate them as equals 
into the white system... 

In some of the British possessions in 
Africa the native just emerging from 



barbarism was accepted as an equal 
citizen with full political rights along 
with the whites. But his native 
institutions were ruthlessly proscribed 
and destroyed. This principle of equal 
rights was applied in its crudest form, 
and while it gave the natives a 
semblance of equality with whites, 
which was little good to him, it 
destroyed the basis of his African 
system which was his highest good. 
These are the two extreme native 
policies which have prevailed in the 
past, and the second has been only 
slightly less harmful than the first. If 
Africa has to be redeemed, if Africa 
has to make her own contribution to 
the world, if Africa is to take her 
rightful place among the continents, 
we shall have to proceed on different 
lines and evolve a policy which will 
not force her institutions into an alien 



European world, but which will 
preserve her unity with her own past, 
conserve what is precious in her past, 
and build her future progress and 
civilisation on specifically African 
foundations. That should be the new 
policy... 

It is a significant fact that this new 
orientation of African policy had its 
origin in South Africa, and that its 
author was Cecil Rhodes in his 
celebrated Glen Grey Act. Rhodes 's 
African policy embodied two main 
ideas: white settlement to supply the 
steel framework and the stimulus for 
enduring civilisation, and indigenous 
native institutions to express the 
specifically African character of the 
natives in their future development 
and civilisation. African policies 
should arise in Africa, from the 
experience of the men and women 



who are in daily contact with the 
living problems... 

Prior to the Glen Grey legislation it 
had been the practice in South Africa, 
as it had been the practice in all 
European-occupied territory in Africa, 
to rule the natives direct through 
Government officials - direct rule, as 
it has been called... The native chiefs 
were either deposed and deprived of 
authority, or where use was made of 
them, they were incorporated into the 
official system and appointed as 
officers of the Government, from 
whom they derived all their authority, 
and in whose name that authority was 
exercised... His second innovation was 
to make it possible for natives in their 
tribal areas to become possessed of 
their own separate plots of agricultural 
land instead of the traditional common 
holding and working of land which is 



the universal native system throughout 
Africa... 

A third feature of his system was a 
labour tax of ten shillings per annum, 
imposed on all native heads of 
families who did not go to work 
beyond their district for three months 
in the year. The object of the tax was 
obvious. The whites wanted labourers, 
and the natives were supposed to 
require some inducement to go to 
work instead of sitting on their 
holdings and seeing their women 
work... The tax, however, was 
unpopular with the natives from the 
start and soon appeared to be an 
unnecessary irritation... The native, 
although a slaw worker, is not lazy, 
and does not require any special 
inducement... His main incentive is his 
rising scale of needs in food and 
clothing... 



The universal experience in Africa is 
that, although it takes some time at the 
beginning for the native to enter white 
employment, his rapidly-growing 
economic needs in a white 
environment, and with a rising scale of 
living, soon make him take his full 
share of the burden without any 
necessity to resort to special 
measures... 

The native system of land socialism is 
not only primitive but most wasteful in 
its working... The result is that the 
communal farms rapidly deteriorate 
and become exhausted, and have to be 
abandoned after a few years' use. 
Then the farm shifts to another area of 
the tribal domain where the same 
process of uneconomic exhaustion is 
repeated. ... In the course of years this 
shifting cultivation works havoc with 



the natural resources ... the tribal lands 
become a barren waste. 

This sad phenomenon can be seen in 
one degree or another all over the 
African continent... 

Practical agricultural education must 
indeed become one of the principal 
subjects of native education. 

The main object of the Glen Grey 
legislation was, however, to give the 
native his own institutions for self- 
development and self-government... 
The new policy is to foster an 
indigenous native culture or system of 
cultures and to cease to force the 
African into alien European moulds. 
As a practical policy of native 
government it has worked most 
successfully. Gradually the system of 
native councils has been extended 
from one native area to another in the 



Cape Province, until today about two- 
thirds of the Cape natives, or roughly 
over a million, fall under this system 
and manage their own local affairs 
according to their own ideas under the 
supervision of the European 
magistrates. 

After the new system has worked 
successfully and with ever-increasing 
efficiency for twenty-five years, I 
thought the time ripe in 1920 to extend 
it to the whole Union... 

The new system is far-reaching and 
has come none too soon. Already the 
African system is disintegrating 
everywhere over the whole African 
continent... Many factors have 
combined to produce this situation. 
Missionaries share the blame with 
governments... 



The introduction of the Christian 
religion meant not only the breakdown 
of the primitive belief in spirits, in 
magic and witchcraft, and the 
abandonment of the practice of 
polygamy; it meant the breakdown of 
the entire integral native outlook on 
life and the world... 

If the bonds of native tribal cohesion 
and authority are dissolved, the 
African governments will everywhere 
sit with vast hordes of detribalised 
natives on their hands, for whom the 
traditional restraints and discipline of 
the chiefs and elders will have no 
force or effect... The results may well 
be general chaos... Such a breakdown 
should be prevented at all costs. 

This policy of dealing with peoples 
not yet able to stand by themselves in 
the colonies and territories taken from 
the defeated powers in the First World 



War, is in effect, enshrined in the 
Covenant of the League of Nations 
and its mandates. My father was 
responsible for this mandate principle 
and for its inclusion in Article 22 of 
the Covenant. 

In this same lecture my father stressed 
the need for a certain measure of 
segregation. 

This separation is imperative, not only 
in the interests of a native Culture, and 
to prevent the native traditions and 
institutions from being swamped by 
the more powerful organisation of the 
whites, but also for other important 
purposes, such as public health, racial 
purity and public good order. The 
mixing up of two such alien elements 
as white and black leads to unhappy 
social results - racial miscegenation, 
moral deterioration of both, racial 



antipathy and clashes, and to many 
other forms of social evil... It is, 
however, evident that the proper place 
of the educated minority of the natives 
is with the rest of their people, of 
whom they are natural leaders, and 
from whom they should not in any 
way be dissociated. 

Far more difficult questions arise on 
the industrial plane. It is not 
practicable to separate black and white 
in industry... 

There remains the big question how 
far the parallelism of native and white 
institutions is to go. Is it to be confined 
to local government, or is it to go all 
the way up to the level of full political 
or parliamentary government? Should 
black and white co-operate in the same 
parliamentary institutions? Few 
acquainted with the facts and 



difficulties can profess to see clear 
daylight in the tangle of this problem... 

I do not think there can be, or at the 
bottom there is, among those who 
have given the subject serious 
attention, any doubt that in the 
supreme legislature of a country with a 
mixed population all classes and 
colours should have representation... 
There can be only one sovereign body 
in a country and that body should 
represent the weaker no less than the 
stronger. To that extent there should 
be agreement. As to the mode of 
representation of colour in the 
supreme parliament there can be 
legitimate difference of opinion... In 
South Africa ... we started with the 
older system of mixed constituencies 
in the Cape Colony, and this system is 
embodied and entrenched in the Act of 
Union which forms our Constitution. 



The present Government has proposed 
to scrap this system for the future, and 
to give separate representation in 
Parliament to native and non-native 
voters. A policy which might have 
been easy and, from certain points of 
view, even commendable, with a clean 
slate before us, has become 
enormously difficult because of what 
has been done in the past, and the 
justifiable fervour with which the 
Cape non-Europeans cling to their 
vested rights, which they have enjoyed 
for three-quarters of a century. 

If we had to do only with the tribal 
native voters the question would not 
be so difficult, and the application of 
the general segregation principle to the 
particular case of political rights might 
be justified... Urbanised natives living 
among the whites constitute the real 
crux and it is a difficulty which goes 



far beyond the political issue. They 
raise a problem for the whole principle 
of segregation, as they claim to be 
civilised and Europeanised, and do not 
wish to be thrust back into the 
seclusion of their former tribal 
associations or to forgo their new 
place in the sun among the whites... 
Were it not for this case of the 
urbanised or detribalised natives, the 
colour problem, not only in South 
Africa but elsewhere in Africa, would 
be shorn of most of its difficulties... 

It is only when segregation breaks 
down, when the whole family migrates 
from the tribal home and out of the 
tribal jurisdiction to the white man's 
farm or the white man's town, that the 
tribal bond is snapped, and the 
traditional system falls into decay. 
And it is this migration of the native 
family, of the females and children, to 



the farms and towns, which should be 
prevented... 

At the same time I wish to point out 
that the prevention of this migration 
will be no easy task, even where ample 
funds are guaranteed to the natives. 
The whites like to have the families of 
their native servants with them. It 
means more contentment and less 
broken periods of labour, and it means 
more satisfied labourers. 

He concludes by suggesting that the 
system of segregation is perhaps more 
workable at present than in the past. 
Women and children are to be left at 
home to carry on their domestic tasks 
as they have done from the 
immemorial past. 

The men, instead of lying in the sun, 
or brawling over their beer, or 
indulging in the dangerous sport of 



tribal warfare, will go out to work and 
supplement the family income... 
Without breaking down what is good 
in the native system, it will graft on to 
it a wholesome economic 
development, which will yet not 
disturb too deeply the traditional ways 
of Mother Africa. 

In his own home and on his own farms 
he always took a kind and patriarchal 
view of his native wards. To Annie, 
the old Bantu servant girl who had 
worked faithfully with our family for 
many years, he left a small legacy in 
his will. 

He always took a keen interest in the 
native labourers on his farms, 
especially in the old ones who had 
been with him for years. These he took 
pleasure In greeting cheerfully "more 
booi", "boy" being an Afrikaans 
derivation having no connection with 



youthfulness. The natives, sensing an 
inherent kindness in their old master, 
treated him with veneration and 
worked steadily on the farm for years. 

It was the little piccanins, however, he 
preferred, with their shiny, shaven 
heads and big, dark eyes, and with 
their wide, white flashing smile. Their 
behaviour suggested to him the 
elemental wild animal of nature of 
which he was so fond. Their eyes, in 
fact, held a surprised doe-like look 
which strengthened this feeling. These 
wild, colourful people, he was fond of 
photographing with his cine whenever 
he had the opportunity. 

At Christmas time he would ask my 
mother to prepare parcels of sweets for 
the various native families on his 
farms. He did this for as long as I can 
remember. Sometimes he would have 
a little party for them in the garden, 



and after listening to their singing or father's feelings towards his 

watching their dancing efforts, he neighbours. 

would have cool drinks and 

refreshments dispensed. The little 

piccanins loved the parties, and I think 

they really loved their "Oubaas" too. 

On the northern boundaries of the 
bushveld farms are extensive native 
trust areas. These, here, as elsewhere, 
are hopelessly overcrowded and the 
fertile bush tracts are rapidly being 
transformed into semi-arid wastelands. 
There is considerable overgrazing, 
especially by the noxious goats, and 
the trees have mostly been chopped 
down for firewood. Consequently 
these native settlements have grown 
progressively more parasitical on our 
property, our fences offering little 
security from depredations by natives 
and goats alike. Though this made our 
managers indignant it did not sour my 



55 : Scientific World Picture Of 
Today 

In 1931 my father was invited to 
London to preside at the Centenary 
Meeting of the British Association for 
the Advancement of Science. Science 
held no higher honour, for this was the 
greatest meeting of the scientists of the 
world. He considered this invitation 
the crowning honour of his life. 
Nothing ever pleased him more. 

"No president", says Professor J.B.S. 
Haldane in a letter to my father, "in 
recent (or, indeed, in former) times has 
had anything like the same knowledge 
of philosophy, as well as science, as 
you have." 

First he delivered the opening speech 
at the Faraday Exhibition. 

At the Centenary Meeting the lecture 
was on "The Scientific World Picture 



of Today". Five thousand delegates, 
from all over the world, including 
some of the most illustrious scientists 
of the day, attended. It was a busy time 
for my father. He was on many 
committees. Some days he delivered 
several addresses, and on one 
particularly busy day no less than 
thirteen. The topics varied from 
farming to philosophy. On all these he 
spoke with confidence and authority. 
He also presided at the Sir James jeans 
address, and at Maxwell's centenary 
celebrations at Cambridge. Wherever 
he went, crowds flocked after him and 
halls were invariably filled to 
overflowing. Never before in his life 
had he been so lionised - not only by 
the people, but by the great scientists 
as well. These meetings left proud 
memories with him. 



From London the Association went to 
York, where further meetings were 
held. 

My old friend, Professor 
J.A. Wilkinson of Johannesburg, who 
was a delegate, wrote to me: "Today 
the British Association ends its 
centenary meeting, one which will 
never be forgotten by those who have 
had the good fortune to attend it. I am 
sure that your father has enjoyed it and 
for him it has been one long triumph 
right from the very beginning. The 
night before last [28.9.31] the honorary 
degree of D.Sc. was conferred on him 
by the University of London, a very 
great distinction indeed, as in the 
whole history of the University, which 
is now almost a century old, only two 
honorary degrees had previously been 
conferred, namely on Lord Lister, the 



father of Aseptic Surgery, and Lord 
Kelvin the physicist..." 

My father's main address, covering a 
full sweep of the fields of science, was 
a masterly one. It was free of jarring 
detail, yet explicit and. well 
proportioned. Here are some extracts 
from it: 

[Science] has been continually 
changing with the changing know- 
ledge and beliefs of man. Thus, there 
was the world of magic and animism, 
which was followed by that of the 
early nature gods. There was the 
geocentric world which still survives 
in the world of commonsense. There is 
the machine or mechanistic world- 
view dominant since the time of 
Galileo and Newton, and now, since 
the coming of Einstein, being replaced 
by the mathematician's conception of 
the universe as a symbolic structure of 



which no mechanical model is 
possible. All these world-views have 
in turn obtained currency according as 
some well defined aspect of our 
advancing knowledge has from time to 
time been dominant... 

Science arose from our ordinary 
experience and commonsense outlook. 
The world of commonsense is a world 
of matter, of material stuff, of real 
separate things and their properties 
which act on each other and cause 
changes in each other. To the various 
things observable by the senses were 
added the imperceptible things - space 
and time, invisible forces, life and the 
soul. Even these were not enough, and 
the supernatural was added to the 
natural world. The original inventory 
was continually being enlarged, and 
thus a complex empirical worldview 
arose, full of latent contradictions, but 



with a solid basis of actual experience 
and facts behind it... 

But underneath this placid surface, the 
seeds of the future were germinating. 
With the coming of the twentieth 
century, fundamental changes began to 
set in. The new point of departure was 
reached when physical science ceased 
to confine its attention to the things 
that are observed. It dug down to a 
deeper level, and below the things that 
appear to the sense, it found, or 
invented, at the base of the world, so- 
called scientific entities; not capable of 
direct observation, but which are 
necessary to account for the facts of 
observations. Thus, below molecules 
and atoms still more ultimate entities 
appeared; radiations, electrons and 
protons emerged as elements which 
underlie and form our world of matter. 
Matter itself, the time-honoured 



mother of all, practically disappeared 
into electrical energy. 

"The cloud-capp'd towers, the 
gorgeous palaces, 
The solemn temples, the great 
globe itself." 

Yea, all the material forms of earth 
and sky and sea were dissolved and 
spirited away into the blue of energy... 

The physical concept or insight of 
space-time is our first revolutionary 
innovation, our first complete break 
with the old world of commonsense. 
Already it has proved an instrument of 
amazing power in the newer physics. 
In the hands of an Einstein it has led 
beyond Euclid and Newton, to the 
recasting of the law and the concept of 
gravitation, and to the new relativity 
conception of the basis structure of the 
world. The transformation of the 



concept of space, owing to the 
injection into it of time, has destroyed 
the old passive homogeneous notion of 
space and has substituted a flexible, 
variable continuum, the curvatures and 
unevennesses of which constitute to 
our senses what we call a material 
world. The new concept has made it 
possible to construe matter, mass and 
energy as but definite measure 
conditions of curvature in the structure 
of space-time... 

I pass on to an even more 
revolutionary recent advance of 
physics. The space-time world, 
however novel, however shattering to 
commonsense, is not in conflict with 
reason. Indeed, the space-time world is 
largely a discovery of the 
mathematical reason and is an entirely 
rational world. It is a world where 
reason, as it were, dissolves the 



refractoriness of the old material 
substance and smoothes it out into 
forms of space-time. Science, which 
began with empirical brute facts, 
seems to be heading for the reign of 
pure reason. But wait a bit; another, 
fundamental discovery of our age has 
apparently taken us beyond the bounds 
of rationality, and is thus even more 
revolutionary than that of space-time. I 
refer to the Quantum theory, Max 
Planck's discovery at the end of the 
nineteenth century, according to which 
energy is granular, consisting of 
discrete grains or quanta. The world in 
space-time is a continuum; the 
quantum action is a negation of 
continuity. Thus arises the 
contradiction, not only of 
commonsense, but apparently of 
reason itself. The quantum appears to 



behave like a particle, but a particle 
out of space or time... 

From the brilliant discoveries of 
physical science we pass on to the 
advances in biological science which, 
although far less revolutionary, have 
been scarcely less important for our 
world-outlook. The most important 
biological discovery of the last century 
was the great fact of organic evolution; 
and for this fact the space-time 
concept has at last came to provide the 
necessary physical basis. It is 
unnecessary for my purpose to canvass 
the claims and discuss the views 
represented by the great names of 
Lamarck, Darwin and Mendel, beyond 
saying that they represent a 
progressive advance in biological 
discovery, the end of which has by no 
means been reached yet. Whatever 
doubts and differences of opinion 



there may be about the methods, the 
mechanism, or the causes, there is no 
doubt about the reality of organic 
evolution, which is one of the most 
firmly-established results in the whole 
range of science... 

The general trend of the recent 
advances in physics has thus been 
towards the recognition of the 
fundamental organic character of the 
material world. Physics and biology 
are beginning to look not so utterly 
unlike each other. Hitherto the great 
gulf in nature has lain between the 
material and the vital, between 
inorganic matter and life. This gulf is 
now in process of being bridged. The 
new physics, in dissolving the material 
world of commonsense and 
discovering the finer structure of 
physical nature, has at the same time 
disclosed certain fundamental features 



which it has in common with the 
organic world. Stuff-like entities have 
disappeared and have been replaced by 
space-time configurations whose very 
nature depends on their principle of 
organisation. And this principle, which 
I have ventured to call holism, appears 
to be at the bottom identical with that 
which pervades the organic structures 
of the world of life. The quantum and 
space-time have brought physics 
closer to biology. As I have pointed 
out, the quantum anticipates some of 
the fundamental characters of life, 
while space-time forms the physical 
basis for organic evolution. Physics 
and biology are thus recognised as 
respectively simple: and more 
advanced forms of the same 
fundamental pattern in world- 
structure... 



A living individual is a physiological 
whole, in which the parts or organs are 
but differentiations of this whole for 
purposes of greater efficiency, and 
remain in organic continuity 
throughout. They are parts of the 
individual, and not independent or 
self-contained units which compose 
the individual. It is only this 
conception of the individual as a 
dynamic organic whole which will 
make intelligible the extraordinary 
unity which characterises the 
multiplicity of functions in an 
organism, the mobile, ever-changing 
balance and interdependence of the 
numerous regulatory processes in it, as 
well as the operation of all the 
mechanisms by which organic 
evolution is brought about... 

... From matter, as now transformed by 
space-time and the quantum, we pass 



step by step through organic nature to 
conscious mind. Gone is the time 
when Descartes could divide the world 
into only two substances - extended 
substance or matter and thinking sub- 
stance or mind. There is a whole world 
of gradations between these two 
limits. On Descartes' false dichotomy 
the separate provinces of modern 
science and philosophy were 
demarcated. But it is as dead as the 
epicycles of Ptolemy, and ultimately 
the Cartesian frontiers between 
physics and philosophy must largely 
disappear, and philosophy once more 
become metaphysic in the original 
sense. In the meantime, under its 
harmful influence, the paths of matter 
and mind, of science and philosophy, 
were made to diverge farther and 
farther, so that only the revolution now 
taking place in thought could bring 



them together again. I believe, 
however, their reunion is coming fast. 
We have seen matter and life 
indefinitely approaching each other in 
the ultimate constituents of the 
world... 

The highest reach of this creative 
process is seen in the realm of values, 
which is the product of the human 
mind. Great as is the physical universe 
which confronts us as a given fact, no 
less great is our reading and evaluation 
of it in the world of values, as seen in 
language, literature, culture, civili- 
sation, society and the state, law, 
architecture, art, science, morals and 
religion. Without this revelation of 
inner meaning and significance the 
external physical universe would be 
but an immense empty shell or 
crumpled surface. The brute fact here 
receives its meaning, and a new world 



arises which gives to nature whatever 
significance it has. As against the 
physical configurations of nature we 
see here the ideal patterns or wholes 
freely created by the human spirit as a 
home and an environment for itself. 

Among the human values thus created 
science ranks with art and religion. In 
its selfless pursuit of truth, in its vision 
of order and beauty, it partakes of the 
duality of both. More and more it is 
beginning to make a profound 
aesthetic and religious appeal to 
thinking people. Indeed, it may fairly 
be said that science is perhaps the 
clearest revelation of God to our age. 
Science is at last coming into its own 
as one of the supreme goods of the 
human race. 

While religion, art and science are still 
separate values they may not always 
remain such. Indeed, one of the 



greatest tasks before the human race 
will be to link up science with ethical 
values, and thus to remove grave 
dangers threatening our future... 

I have now finished my rapid and 
necessarily superficial survey of the 
more prominent recent tendencies in 
science, and I proceed to summarise 
the results and draw my conclusions, 
in so far as they bear on our world- 
picture. 

In the first place we have seen that in 
the ultimate physical analysis science 
reaches a microscopic world of 
scientific entities, very different in 
character and behaviour from the 
microscopic world of matter, space 
and time. The world of atoms, 
electrons, protons, radiations and 
quanta does not seem to be space-time, 
or to conform to natural law in the 
ordinary sense. The behaviour of these 



entities cannot be understood without 
the most abstruse mathematics, nor, 
apparently, without resort to 
epistemological considerations. We 
seem to have passed beyond the 
definitely physical world into a 
twilight where prophysics and 
metaphysics meet, where space-time 
does not exist, and where strictly 
causal law in the old sense does not 
apply. From this uncertain nebulous 
underworld there seems to crystallise 
out, or literally to materialise, the 
macroscopic world which is the proper 
sphere of sensuous observation and of 
natural laws. The pre-material entities 
or units condense and cohere into 
constellations, which increase in size 
and structure until they reach the 
macroscopic stage of observation. As 
the macroscopic entities emerge, their 
space-time field and appropriate 



natural laws (mostly of a statistical 
character) emerge pari passu. We 
seem to pass from one level to another 
in the evolution of the Universe, with 
different units, different behaviours 
and calling for different concepts and 
laws. Similarly, we rise to new levels 
as later on we pass from the physical 
to the biological level, and again from 
the latter to the level of conscious 
mind. But - and this is the significant 
fact - all these levels are genetically 
related and form an evolutionary 
series; and underlying the differences 
of the successive levels, there remains 
a fundamental unity of plan or 
organisation which binds them 
together as members of a genetic 
series, as a growing, evolving, creative 
universe... 

But ... another dualism of a wider 
reach has appeared, which makes the 



universe itself appear to be a house 
divided against itself. For a while the 
stream of physical tendency 
throughout the universe is on the 
whole downward, towards 

disintegration and dissipation, the 
organic movement, on this planet at 
least, is upward, and life structures are 
on the whole becoming more complex 
throughout the course of organic 
evolution. From the viewpoint of 
physics, life and mind are thus 
singular and exceptional phenomena, 
not in line with the movement of the 
universe as a whole. Recent astrono- 
mical theory has come to strengthen 
this view of life as an exceptional 
feature off the main track of the 
universe. For the origin of our 
planetary system is attributed to an 
unusual accident, and planets such as 
ours with favourable environment for 



life are taken to be rare in the universe. 
Perhaps we may even say that at the 
present epoch there is no other globe 
where life is at the level manifested on 
the earth. Our origin is thus accidental, 
our position is exceptional, and our 
fate is sealed, with the inevitable run- 
ning down of the solar system. Life 
and mind, instead of being the natural 
flowering of the universe, are thus 
reduced to a very casual and inferior 
status in the cosmic order. A new 
meaning and a far deeper poignancy 
are given to Shakespeare's immortal 
lines: 

"We are such stuff 

As dreams are made of, our little 

life 

Is rounded with a sleep." 

According to astronomy, life is indeed 
a lonely and pathetic thing in this 
physical universe - a transient and 



embarrassed phantom in an alien, if 
not hostile, universe. 

Such are some of the depressing 
speculations of recent astronomical 
theory. But in some respects they have 
already been discounted in the 
foregoing. For even if life be merely a 
terrestrial phenomenon, it is by no 
means in an alien environment if, as 
we have seen reason to think, this is an 
essentially organic universe. In its 
organic aspects the universe is on the 
way to life and mind, even if the goal 
has been actually reached at only one 
insignificant point in the universe. The 
potencies of the universe are 
fundamentally the same order as its 
actualities. The universe might say, in 
the words of Rabbi Ben Ezra - 

"All I could never be 
All man ignored in me, 
This I was worth to God." 



Then, again, the very possibility of 
perception, of knowledge and science 
depends on an intimate relation 
between mind and the physical 
universe. Only thus can the concepts 
of mind come to be a measure for the 
facts of the universe, and the laws of 
nature come to be revealed and 
interpreted by nature's own organ of 
the human mind. Besides science we 
have other forms of this inner relation 
between the mind and the universe, 
such as poetry, music, art and religion. 
The human spirit is not a pathetic 
wandering phantom of the universe, 
but is at home, and meets with 
spiritual hospitality and response 
everywhere. Our deepest thoughts and 
emotions and endeavours are but 
responses to stimuli which come to us, 
not from an alien, but from an 
essentially friendly and kindred, 



universe. So far from the cosmic status 
of life and mind being degraded by the 
newer astronomy and physics, I would 
suggest an alternative interpretation of 
the facts more in accord with the trend 
of evolutionary science. We have seen 
a macroscopic universe born or 
revealed to consciousness out of a 
prior microscopic order of a very 
different character. Are we not, in the 
emergence of life and mind, 
witnessing the birth or revelation of a 
new world out of the macroscopic 
physical universe? I suggest that at the 
present cosmic epoch we are the 
spectators of what is perhaps the 
grandest event in the immeasurable 
history of our universe, and that we 
must interpret the present phase of the 
universe as a mother and child 
universe, still joined together by a 
placenta which science, in its divorce 



from the other great values, has 
hitherto failed to unravel. 

Piecing together these clues and 
conclusions we arrive at a world 
picture fuller of mystery than ever. In 
a way it is closer to commonsense and 
kinder to human nature than was the 
science of the nineteenth century. 
Materialism has practically 

disappeared, and the despotic rule of 
necessity has been greatly relaxed. In 
ever-varying degree the universe is 
organic and holistic through and 
through. Not only organic concepts, 
but also, and even more so, 
psychological viewpoints are 
becoming necessary to elucidate the 
facts of science. And while the purely 
human concepts, such as emotion and 
value, purpose and will, do not apply 
in the natural sciences, they retain 
their unimpaired force in the human 



sciences. The ancient spiritual goods 
and heirlooms of our race need not be 
ruthlessly scrapped. The great values 
and ideals retain their unfading glory 
and derive new interest and force from 
a cosmic setting. But in other respects 
it is a strange now universe, 
impalpable, immaterial, consisting not 
of material or stuff, but of 
organisation, of patterns or wholes 
which are unceasingly being woven to 
more complex or simpler designs. In 
the large it appears to be a decaying, 
simplifying universe which attained to 
its perfection of organisation in the 
far-distant past and is now regressing 
to simpler vorms - perhaps for good, 
perhaps only to restart another cycle of 
organisation. But inside this cosmic 
process of decline we notice a smaller 
but far more significant movement - a 
streaming, protoplasmic tendency; an 



embryonic infant world emerging, 
throbbing with passionate life, and 
striving towards rational and spiritual 
self-realisation. We see the mysterious 
creative rise of the higher out of the 
lower, the more from the less, the 
picture within its framework, the 
spiritual kernel inside the phenomenal 
integuments of the universe. Instead of 
the animistic, or the mechanistic, or 
the mathematical universe, we see the 
genetic, organic, holistic universe, in 
which the decline of the earlier 
physical patterns provide the 
opportunity for the emergence of the 
more advanced vital and rational 
patterns. 

In this holistic universe man is in very 
truth the offspring of the stars. The 
world consists not only of electrons 
and radiations but also of souls and 
aspirations. Beauty and holiness are as 



much aspects of nature as energy and 
entropy. Thus "in eternal lines to time 
it grows". An adequate world-view 
would find them all in their proper 
context in the framework of the whole. 
And evolution is perhaps the only way 
of approach to the framing of a 
consistent world-picture which would 
do justice to the immensity, the 
profundity and the unutterable mystery 
of the universe. 

Such in vague outline is the world- 
picture to which science seems to me 
to be pointing. We may not all agree 
with my rendering of it, which indeed 
does not claim to be more than a mere 
sketch. And even if it were generally 
accepted, we have still to bear in mind 
that the world-picture of tomorrow 
will in all probability be very different 
from any which could be sketched 
today. 



It was a memorable address on a 
memorable occasion. 

Sir Alfred Ewing in his presidential 
address before the Association the 
following year paid this tribute to his 
predecessor: "We had long known 
General Smuts as soldier and 
statesman: to some it may have come 
as a surprise when they found him also 
a philosopher, a student of ideas no 
less than a maker of history and a 
leader of men. It would be an 
impertinence for any successor in this 
chair to praise General Smuts: to 
follow him is perforce to follow far 
behind... His occupancy of the chair 
not only added to the lustre of our 
rejoicings; I like to think it also has a 
deeper significance. May we not 
regard it as a harbinger of the spirit of 
goodwill and sanity which civilisation 
longs for but does not yet see?" 



56 : The Gold Standard 



At the end of 1929 the bottom 
dropped suddenly out of Wall Street. 
There was a bad slump in diamonds, 
wool, maize and other things in 
general, and South Africa soon found 
itself, with the rest of the world, 
drifting to an economic collapse. 
Meanwhile other ideas, quite apart 
from his activities at the Centenary, 
were revolving in my father's head. 
For, while the conference was on, 
Britain suddenly decided to go off the 
gold standard. He took the opportunity 
of discussing the implications of the 
move with some of the leading 
economists. So far as Britain was 
concerned the advantages of 
devaluation were readily discernible, 
but the question of its effects on a 
country like South Africa were more 
controversial: The conclusions they 



came to was that it would be greatly to 
our advantage to follow Britain. 

So he forthwith sent a cable to South 
Africa advocating that we should go 
off gold immediately. The Nationalist 
Government treated everything done 
by Britain or my father with suspicion 
and did so in this case. They 
obstinately decided to remain on gold. 
Minister of Finance Havenga had said 
it was the best thing, and he had some 
support from the public, commerce, 
and a few university professors. 

Meanwhile the financial position of 
South Africa was steadily growing 
more precarious. Lucky Havenga' s 
luck seemed to have turned against 
him. The exchange rate was playing 
queer pranks, and trade had dropped 
alarmingly. There were many 
bankruptcies. Our Reserve Bank was 
in difficulties. But the more my father 



pleaded that we should go off gold, the 
more obstinately the Government 
clung to it. 

Under the pressure of these events 
there was a rapid change in the 
political situation. At Colesberg in the 
Cape, a Nationalist stronghold, the 
Government narrowly scraped home in 
a by-election. In December, 1932, at 
Germiston, near Johannesburg, Mr. 
J.G.N. Strauss, against all Government 
predictions, won the seat for the South 
African Party. People said that this, 
like Wolmaransstad, was a straw in the 
wind. The Government's days were 
numbered. 

The Budget Debate in Parliament 
lasted twelve days. Tempers were 
ruffled, and Hertzog in one speech was 
four times called to order by the 
Speaker for uncomplimentary 
references to my father. It was during 



this debate that my father surprised the 
House by objecting to an insulting 
personal reference - only the second 
time he had ever done so. He had been 
called a "political trickster". The 
Minister of Finance showed an 
estimated budget deficit £200,000. In 
the debate my father produced a 
budget, calculated on an "off gold" 
basis, which showed, on a 
conservative estimate, a surplus of 
three-quarters of a million pounds. The 
Nationalists laughed. 

But the depression was steadily 
worsening, and to aggravate matters a 
bad drought hit the farming 
community. 

It was at this stage of stalemate that 
attention was dramatically drawn to 
Tielman Roos. I have already 
explained how he fell out with General 
Hertzog and how he had retired for 



health reasons to the Bench. But Roos 
had now grown tired of the quiet life 
of the law courts and wanted to return 
to politics. He had asked Piet Grobler 
to sound General Hertzog on the 
possibilities of his return, but the 
General had said no. Roos was deeply 
hurt at this brusque rebuff, but awaited 
his opportunity. 

On 22nd December, 1932, he resigned 
from the Bench and stormed the 
country with the cry of "off gold". It 
was no new cry, but his loud roaring 
seemed to awaken the country. There 
was a landslide in opinion. Overnight 
Roos became the hero of the hour, and 
gold the bogy. 

Meanwhile, as it was Christmas time, 
my father took the opportunity to 
snatch a few days' holiday in the 
Eastern Transvaal. He had gone off, 
opportunely, just after Roos's dramatic 



re-entry into the fray. Newspaper 
reporters frantically scoured the 
country to find him. We of the family 
said we thought he was in the 
bushveld. Eventually a reporter ran 
him to earth in Schoeman's Kloof, 
where he was quietly botanising on the 
Crocodile River. To the reporter's 
amazement, instead of discussing the 
new developments, my father simply 
brushed them aside and expounded on 
the beauty of the Kloof and mountains. 
In actual fact, he was waiting for 
matters to develop on their own. There 
was no point in blundering in at this 
stage with pronouncements. 

On December 28th the Government 
said it would perish rather than go off 
gold. For fifteen months they had 
obstinately clung to it. The cost to the 
country of this suicidal policy has 
been calculated at fifty million pounds. 



Now in 1933 they suddenly went off 
gold. Immediately the price of gold 
rose from four guineas an ounce fine 
to six pounds. Shares boomed. Gold 
mines were rejuvenated and low-grade 
properties were saved from closing 
down. There was a new prosperity and 
confidence everywhere. Lucky, 
undeserving, Havenga. 

In January, 1933, Roos publicly called 
upon the two political parties to unite 
under him. He had always been an 
ambitious man, and now the warmth 
of his reception by the public seemed 
to have given him an inflated idea of 
his own importance. His terms were 
that he was to be Prime Minister and 
that each of the parties was to have 
five ministers under him, with an 
additional Labour minister. 

When my father had lost the use of 
Groote Schuur in the Cape, a group of 



overseas friends, to give him the 
privacy of a home in preference to the 
Civil Services Club where he normally 
stayed, bought a home for his use in 
Bowwood Road, Claremont, a 
pleasant suburb on the slopes of Table 
Mountain, ten miles out of Cape 
Town. "Tsalta" was to find a warmer 
place in the hearts of the Smuts family 
than Groote Schuur. It was not far 
from the lovely Kirstenbosch 
Botanical Gardens and had a fine view 
of the mountain slopes. Other good but 
anonymous friends had made him the 
gift of a new Hudson car in 1924, 
though for many years he still retained 
a soft spot for his old war-time 
Vauxhall, now somewhat unreliable. 

My father got into touch with Roos. 
He came out to "Tsalta" one evening 
to discuss his merger ideas. It was 
rumoured that Roos had the support of 



eleven Nationalist members of 
Parliament. Could he count on these, 
my father asked him, and who, in fact 
were they? Roos said, frankly, he was 
not quite certain. This, coupled with a 
noticeable cooling off in public 
enthusiasm, convinced my father that 
Roos was already a spent force. But in 
the South African Parry Caucus strong 
support was to be found for Roos. It is 
said that there was even talk of 
disloyalty to my father. 

But by now Roos had run his meteoric 
course and people were tiring of him. 
It was the lot of most politicians. The 
same crowds were not in places to 
meet and to cheer him. My father 
offered him only four seats in a 
coalition government. He was to be 
one of the four, and only the Deputy 
Prime Minister. This Roos refused. 



At the end of January my father 
moved in the House what was 
tantamount to a vote of no confidence 
in the Government. They had said they 
would stand or fall on the gold 
standard issue. We were now off gold 
and they must honour their obligation. 
It was an abortive appeal. 

The Roos business, however, had set 
my father thinking. He had long since 
tired of the political bitterness with 
which he had been living for over 
twenty years. Almost anything would 
be preferable to this. Roos had turned 
down the plan for coalition. But was 
that necessarily the end? Might not a 
more ambitious plan of coalition with 
Hertzog now be explored? He turned 
the proposition over in his mind 
during his rambles on the mountains 
one week-end. 



When he got back from this walk he 
found J.H. Hofmeyr awaiting him at 
"Tsalta". This brilliant scholastic 
prodigy had already in his twenties 
been Principal of the Witwatersrand 
University and later Administrator of 
the Transvaal. At thirty he had turned 
down the offer of a High 
Commissionership in London and 
come into politics on my father's side. 
In political leanings he was a liberal, 
not unlike his famous uncle of similar 
name in the old Cape Parliament. 
Already Hofmeyr had helped in the 
previous negotiations between Roos 
and my father. 

What Hofmeyr had now come to say 
was that Nationalist contacts had 
hinted that there might be a chance of 
a Smuts-Hertzog coalition. My father 
had only to make the offer in 
Parliament. It would not be refused. 



My father said that he had been 
turning this possibility over in his 
mind, and that it had his blessing. 
Perhaps it would be better and make 
things easier if he himself dropped out 
of politics. But the Party would not 
hear of his retirement. They wanted 
their old leader. This insistence 
cheered him. My father said he would 
like to sleep on it. He weighed up what 
it would mean to him personally to 
work under a man who had cursed and 
maligned him for so long. Yet, if the 
experiment worked, if he could bear it, 
think of the glorious future it held out 
for the country. Regardless of his own 
feelings, he decided it was worth 
trying. 

Hertzog accepted my father's hand. He 
was to remain Prime Minister and my 
father was to be his Deputy. Each was 
to nominate five ministers. As 



Minister of Justice my father was now 
back in the exact position of State 
Attorney (even to the salary) he 
occupied thirty-five years ago. 

Only my father knew what the 
extension of the hand of friendship to 
Hertzog meant to him. He banished all 
personal ambition and submerged his 
feelings and emotions. The next 
elections would have brought certain 
victory. Of that there was no doubt. 
The Government were thoroughly 
beaten and spent. 

All that he brushed aside. For the sake 
of unity he was prepared to go to these 
lengths - and much more. It saddened 
him that aspiring young Cabinet 
Ministers would not get their chance. 
They, too, had to be sacrificed on the 
national altar. Nor was he under any 
illusion about what the years ahead 
would demand of him. 



The. May General Elections showed 
how truly the public endorsed this 
effort. The Coalition took the country 
by storm. My father's name was 
actually cheered in Smithfield, 
Hertzog's constituency. He spoke, 
with success, in favour of Dr. Malan's 
candidature at Calvinia, and he helped 
a Nationalist to defeat Tielman Roos. 
He did all this gladly at the time, for 
who could then tell that these men 
would turn against him? 

This was the end of Roos. Once more 
he retired from public life, dying not 
long after, a poor man, filled with 
worries about his young family. My 
father unveiled a memorial to him. 

Speaking in Cape Town in March, 
1933, my father said that Coalition had 
not been the work of any particular 
leader. It had been practically forced 
on the leaders by public opinion. 



There had been an overwhelming 
feeling in favour of unity... The people 
had been wiser than their leaders. 
They had wanted Coalition, and they 
had got it... The South African Party 
was probably making a greater 
contribution to the future peace and 
welfare of the country by the action 
they were taking than they could have 
done by any victory at the polls. "My 
prayer is that the people of this 
country, who have been primarily 
responsible for this coalition 
movement, will look upon this work as 
their own, and will not allow party 
divisions to act as a wedge between 
them. See that the experiment is a 
success... Let peace now percolate 
from the top to the bottom, and let the 
spirit of peace pass from the leaders to 
the hearts of the people... Who knows 
that by coming together at this time, 



we have not laid the foundations of 
something very big for South Africa." 



It is a strange thing that though my 
father had at one time been Minister of 
Finance and played a leading part in 
the discussions of finances at the time 
of the gold standard crisis, he took 
little interest in his personal money 
matters. The feeling was one of 
distaste and disinterestedness, not of 
ignorance. 

Consequently, though he had made a 
good Minister of Finance, he made a 
poor show of his own financial affairs, 
and except for the early years when he 
had a lucrative legal practice, he was 
almost constantly on the red side of 
the ledger. But usually he was quite 
unaware of this, for my mother ran his 
domestic affairs for him. She paid the 



accounts and made up his income-tax 
returns and worried about his bank 
balances. It took a petty burden off his 
shoulders. It was typical of my father's 
philosophy that having decided that 
there was little he himself could do by 
worrying about it, he turned it over to 
capable hands and forgot about it. 

Though a comparatively poor man, he 
never refused assistance to friends. I 
feel that if any of the family had at any 
time asked for financial assistance he 
would certainly not have disappointed 
us. On numerous occasions during his 
life he received gifts of money from 
grateful public bodies or wealthy 
friends. These he never touched 
himself but turned straight over to 
public education purposes and trust 
funds. He was scrupulous in the 
extreme about receiving financial 
gifts, and well-wishers who wanted to 



ease his burdens were at a loss to 
know how to help him, for they knew 
that he would never accept any 
assistance. 

The only exceptions to his general rule 
occurred late in life, when he accepted 
a legacy left him by Sir Henry 
Strakosch, an old friend whom he had 
helped at the start of his career. He did 
this only because he felt in old age the 
need for security, so as not to be a 
burden on his family. 

But if he took no direct interest in 
money for his own use, he took a 
lively interest in it in the public sense, 
and he was constantly striving and 
contriving to get funds for his Party 
machine. Here many of his old friends, 
who all prefer to remain anonymous, 
some long since departed, came to the 
Party's assistance and my father 
always remembered them with 



gratitude. It was all done modestly and that "the best way to make an enemy 

discreetly and the public will never of a person is to lend him money"! 

know about the services of these 
benefactors. 

Throughout life he frequently lent 
friends money. We knew of about a 
dozen people to whom he lent (for 
him) large sums of money, but the 
number must be considerably in 
excess of this. To a man with a bank 
overdraft it was an act of considerable 
generosity to be owed some thousands 
of pounds. I doubt if he expected to 
get his money back. We know of only 
a single instance in which these debts 
were repaid. 

When we twitted him about his 
money-lending efforts, pointing out 
that he not only had not got the cash 
back, but that the recipients had 
frequently turned his bitterest political 
enemies, he remarked philosophically 



57 : The Scientist 

During the quieter years when my 
father was out of the Government he 
found time for many things that had 
been dear to him for years. Primarily 
for him it was a period of great 
international speeches and great 
scientific activity. 

Let us trace the development of my 
father as a scientist. People are 
inclined to think of him as a scientist 
merely in addition to being already a 
soldier and a politician. Here they are 
really putting the cart before the horse, 
for whatever other qualities my father 
possessed, he was above all a scientist. 
It was from this attribute he inherited 
the characteristic of careful analysis - 
the taking apart of things to discover 
basic factors and principles. It was 
from this he inherited a clarity of 



reasoning and perspective which some 
have attributed to his legal training. 

So, basically, let us look upon my 
father as a patient and painstaking 
scientific worker, irrespective of 
whether he was dealing with abstract 
factors, or the teeming peoples of the 
earth. His clarity of thought and 
method of reasoning never varied. 

Rather let us say that he was a good 
general and good politician because he 
was a versatile scientist. 

At an early age he showed these 
leanings. But in his youth the study of 
science was still a comparatively new 
art, with little literature and little 
publicity. Consequently my father had 
to grope for a mode of expression. 
This he found by his reading of the 
poets and philosophers and his 
communion with nature. Crude as 



these methods were, they helped him 
to write his novel and far-reaching 
treatise on Walt Whitman. The 
analysis of Whitman followed him as 
an intriguing problem for many years 
and he was not satisfied until he had 
expressed himself more maturely in 
Holism and Evolution. Yet Holism 
was only an introduction to the 
problem, and if he had leisure one day 
he hoped to complete it in a second 
volume. 

Though dealing with inanimate 
elements and impersonal laws, my 
father believed that these laws were in 
fact expressions of a form of 
personality, and the very atoms and 
electrons were no less than basic 
communities of regulated things. 
Holism (pronounced as if spelt 
"Hollism") was an endeavour to postu- 




General Smuts - 1930 

late a link between life and matter. It 
involved a process of evolution, which 
after all is a concept of a living trend. 



It is a long time since Newton gazed 
musingly at the gravitational attraction 
upon an apple, or Faraday dabbled 
with the elementary phenomena of 
electricity, but this was the 
background in which my father spent 
his early years. When he was at Cam- 
bridge he pursued the course of law 
and rhetoric and had little tutored 
experience in scientific matters. All 
the science he learned he gleaned 
painstakingly for himself by private 
reading and study. In chemistry he 
taught himself about Rutherford's 
atoms and the symbols and reactions 
of the various elements. Kelvin taught 
him about electrical behaviour, 
Edington and jeans about the com- 
position of the celestial spaces, Planck 
and Einstein about the abstract 
behaviour of matter and space in all its 



dimensions, and the remainder he 
filled in from other scientists. 

The study of Geology fascinated him 
from an early age. Born in the rugged 
mountain land of the Cape, it would 
have been strange had a study of the 
crust of the earth not intrigued him. It 
would have been difficult for a 
mountaineer to stand upon the top of 
Table Mountain and gaze northwards 
across the great jagged buttresses, 
rising one behind the other into the 
blue distance, without feeling an 
ambition to unravel the riddle of the 
crust. 

So my father, by reading and 
observation, soon had a good working 
knowledge of the rudiments of crustal 
behaviour. Joly's hypothesis of 
isostasy, or rising and falling 
continental masses, interested him, for 
it personified the pulsations of a living 



continent. But the Taylor- Wegener 
theory of continental drift was his 
great love in the geological realms. 
For not only did it solve a large 
number of formerly inexplicable 
phenomena, but it had a satisfying 
purposeful trend about it, and 
purported to show, too, that Africa 
was the stable mother continent from 
which the subsequent disruption and 
drifting had taken place. 

His interest in continental drift was 
stimulated by the inspiring spectacle 
of the Great Rift Valley of East Africa 
he saw during his campaigning there 
in the First World War. For the Great 
Rift might well be the manifestation or 
embryo of a new rift and movement, 
which in the fullness of geological 
time, might amount to a new division 
of the African continent. With Dr. 
A.L. du Toit he had close ties of 



friendship and association. Du Toit 
was our leading geologist, and perhaps 
the greatest modern protagonist of the 
continental drift hypothesis. My father 
spotted his brilliance early on and took 
an active interest in him till his death 
shortly after the Second World War. 
The fact that he had failed to indicate 
satisfactory water boring sites on my 
father's bushveld farm did not in any 
way shake my father's faith in him. 
When Professor Schwarz was 
expounding his Kalahari redemption 
scheme in the early 1920s my father 
sent du Toit to investigate the matter 
on behalf of the Government. Though 
this survey was hurried and not 
completely conclusive it showed that 
water would have to be persuaded to 
flow uphill to fill some of the old 
desert depressions. Many of Schwarz' s 
other premises did not meet with 



general acceptance. Du Toit had also 
been intrigued by the personality of 
Schwarz, who apparently displayed 
but scant interest during the trip in the 
geological and topographical investi- 
gations, but was wildly interested in 
the studies of native life he came 
across. The impression was, du Toit 
told my father, that Schwarz had 
already lost interest in his own 
grandiose scheme. 

As President of the British Association 
for the Advancement of Science when 
it met in Cape Town on the 6th July, 
1925, my father delivered an address 
on "Science from the South African 
Point of View", in which he touched 
briefly on some of his pet ideas in so 
far as they concerned us. 



In the first place [he said] the South 
African point of view will liberate us 



from old preconceived ways of 
looking at many scientific problems... 
The Northern Hemisphere, and in 
particular the European continent, is 
the home of nineteenth-century 
science, its birthplace and the great 
field of its labour and triumphs... No 
wonder it has come to be considered 
the centre of the world, perhaps the 
original seat and centre of all 
terrestrial evolution... 

From many points of view Africa 
occupies a key position among the 
continents of the world; it has the most 
curious affinities with all of them; 
more than any other continent it has 
special scientific relationships with all 
the rest. And the character of these 
relationships shows that it occupies 
not only geographically but also 
scientifically a position among the 
rest, a position which may yet supply 



the key and the explanation to many 
problems that are at present obscure or 
unexplained by science... 

Within the last five years a great 
impetus has been given to this way of 
looking at Africa by the Wegener 
theory, or rather hypothesis, for it is, 
perhaps, not yet more than an 
hypothesis... The Wegener hypothesis 
purports to explain the origin, the past 
and the present of all continents and 
oceans of this globe... 

For us in this part of the world the 
most interesting feature of the scheme 
is that in it Africa assumes a central 
position among the continents... It 
appears as the mother continent from 
which South America on the one side 
and Madagascar, India, Australia and 
their surrounding areas on the other, 
have split off and drifted away... The 
evidence for all this is strong; ... It 



may be right in assigning to the 
African continent a central deter- 
mining position in many of the great 
unsolved problems of Geographical 
Distribution... 

One important line of research which 
it suggests to us is the East-West 
aspect, in addition to the hitherto 
prevalent North-South line of orien- 
tation... We have looked to the north 
for explanations as well as our origins, 
in future ... we shall look more to East 
and West. ... We shall look upon 
Southern Africa as the centre of the 
Southern Hemisphere and correlate all 
the relative scientific problems of this 
hemisphere from that new point of 
view... 

Let us first take the case of Geology... 
Several of our formations at the Cape 
seem to be continued or paralleled by 



identical or similar formations in India 
and South America... 

We may be enabled thereby to explain 
just why they are practically the sole 
producers of the world's diamonds; 
why the diamond fields of South-West 
Africa are situated on the one edge of 
the Atlantic and those of Brazil on the 
other; why the coalfields of these three 
countries and of Australia are confined 
to the eastern portions of each of these 
land masses; and why the curious and 
ancient banded ironstones are so 
widely spread in South Africa, Brazil, 
peninsular India and Western 
Australia, though absent from Europe. 

But it is when we came to the 
biological sciences that such a com- 
parative study promises the most 
fruitful results... Consider, for 
instance, the problems affecting our 
Botany. We have two distinct floras in 



South Africa; the one, the South 
African flora, which covers most of 
sub-tropical Africa and is clearly of 
tropical origin; the other, a temperate 
flora, found only in the south-west of 
the Cape Province on the seaward side 
of the first great mountain barrier, with 
outliers extending to the north along 
the mountain systems into the tropics. 

The two floras are, apparently, quite 
different and distinct and are engaged 
in a mortal conflict with each other. 
This Cape flora forms, indeed, a 
problem of profound and baffling 
interest. What is its origin, and what is 
its relation to the South African flora? 
Northern Europe is the source and the 
north temperate flora of Europe is the 
origin of both our South African and 
Cape floras. The north temperate flora 
of Europe is supposed to have been 
driven south by the onset of the last 



great Ice Age in Europe and ... to have 
migrated southwards along the eastern 
mountain systems of Africa until 
southern Africa was reached. 

This common view of the European 
origin of our floras will, however, 
require very careful reconsideration... 
It may, for instance, yet be found that 
our floras are not of northern origin, 
but come from the ancient lands of the 
Southern Hemisphere which are 
covered by the Wegener hypothesis ... 
Similarly, the Cape flora has peculiar 
affiliations with the floras of certain 
countries in the Southern Hemisphere. 
The current view of the northern origin 
may therefore not be the last word so 
far as Botany is concerned... 

Here it is necessary to point out that 
Darwin, while holding to the northern 
origin, yet continued to be haunted by 
the idea of a southern continent whose 



mystery might, perhaps, hold also the 
secret of the origin of the Angio- 
sperms... 

The Cape Province ... is a narrow 
corner of the African continent... Its 
wealth of endemic forms is out of all 
proportion to its area... Is it not more 
probable that the south-western corner 
of Africa is the remains of a land 
which extended much farther in the 
Southern Ocean? ... In other words, 
this flora points ... to an origin even 
farther south than the ancient Gon- 
dwanaland is commonly supposed to 
have extended. May we not venture 
the suggestion that the Cape temperate 
flora is the survival of an Antarctic 
and sub-Antarctic flora which has 
perished in the climate changes of the 
past? 

[My father then switched to zoology 
and so on to past climates.] 



Indisputable evidence of the severe 
and long-continued convulsions of 
Africa during the Tertiary times exists. 
The vast cracks and fissures which 
rent it from south to north exist today 
still in the chains of great lakes and 
"rift valleys" which extend across 
Africa from the Zambesi to the Red 
Sea, the Dead Sea and the deep valley 
of the Jordan. Farther north the crust 
of the earth folded up slowly like a 
crumpled scroll, and as a result the 
huge mountain chains of the Atlas and 
the Alps, the Taurus and the 
Himalayas were formed. Volcanoes 
burst forth in Africa in many places 
along the lines of weakness, while in 
the south the diamond pipes were 
formed. 

During the closing phase of the 
Tertiary there occurred elevations of 
the Scandinavian shield and other land 



masses in many parts of the world. 
Conditions grew steadily more frigid, 
until eventually Europe was in the full 
grip of the last ice Age, though in the 
more temperate climes increased 
rainfall took the place of the snow and 
ice. Primitive man, the fore-runner of 
homo sapiens, made his bow during 
the Ice Age and is represented by the 
fossil remains found in caves and river 
drifts. 

Three finds of outstanding importance 
have in recent years signalled South 
Africa as a great field of research into 
the human past. The first was the 
discovery of the Boskop skull, which, 
according to Professor Dart, represents 
a still existing strain among our native 
peoples. The second was the discovery 
of Homo rhodesiensis at Broken Hill, 
which Professor Elliot Smith is 
reported to have declared to have been 



one of the most significant finds ever 
to have been made in human 
palaeontology. Finally we have 
Australopithecus africanus, which 
largely breaks new ground in palaeon- 
tology... 

It will be seen at once what a change 
Professor Dart's discovery brings into 
the situation. For in Australopithecus 
africanus we have just such an 
anticipated transitional form between 
the ape and the human; we have a 
creature which is still indisputably an 
ape, but with certain facial features 
and a brain development which take it 
some way towards the human... The 
deduction has been made that Homo 
rhodesiensis was living quite out of his 
proper geological horizon, and was 
surviving in South Africa long ages 
after his compeers in Europe had 
passed away... But there is really 



nothing singular in such an idea. After 
all, such a situation is typical of South 
Africa in more respects than one. Our 
Bushmen are nothing but living 
fossils, whose "contemporaries" disap- 
peared from Europe many thousands 
of years ago. The interest of South 
Africa as a field for anthropological 
research is partly just this, that it is 
possibly ten thousand years behind the 
times, as measured by the standards of 
European cultures... 

It is not only one of the oldest land 
surfaces, but since the end of the 
Mesozoic period it has generally 
enjoyed a fairly habitable, though on 
the whole, dry climate... No wonder 
therefore that it should contain not 
only some of the most ancient fossil 
records of the human race, and that 
among its living races it should 
include what are "fossils" in other 



continents. Its little Bushmen are 
unique; its little pigmy population that 
hide in the tropical and sub-tropical 
forests are representatives of the long- 
vanished human past. Going a little 
farther back, we find in Africa the 
home of the great anthropoid apes 
which are nearest to us in the affinities 
of life... 

The scope for scientific work in South 
Africa in this department of know- 
ledge is therefore immense; the ground 
lies literally cumbered with the 
possibilities of great discoveries. 

Our coasts are covered with raised 
beaches and caves which have never 
been explored and which probably 
hold precious secrets. Our limestone 
and dolomite formations are honey- 
combed with unexplored grottos... 



The guess my father hazarded at the 
"unexplored grottos" was indeed 
prophetic, for ten years afterwards, an 
old friend of his, Dr. Robert Broom, 
began to make the most important 
series of ape-man discoveries that 
have occurred in the age of human 
palaeontology. Here, in the old 
limestone caves near Krugersdorp, 
were found a wide range of advanced 
fossil anthropoids dating back between 
one and two million years, who 
showed characteristics far in advance 
of any living ape and who walked 
upright. The different types varied in 
size from small apes weighing perhaps 
a hundred pounds to giant brutes of six 
hundred pounds. 

These epoch-making finds pleased my 
father quite as much as they did Dr. 
Broom, for it was my father who, in 
the early days, had been impressed by 



the remarkable work Dr. Broom, then 
a medical practitioner, was doing on 
the Karoo fossils, and had persuaded 
him to take up research work in the 
Transvaal Museum. Broom, more than 
any other scientist, has brought lustre 
to this country. 

His belief in the raised beaches was 
also justified long after during the 
intensified studies of ocean levels and 
past climates, which culminated in the 
remarkable results of the investi- 
gations of the noted French anthro- 
pologist the Abbe Henri Breuil. Breuil 
was another old friend of my father's, 
whom after the collapse of France he 
had prevailed upon to come to South 
Africa to study our prehistory. 

These and other illustrious scientists 
who my father grouped about him and 
encouraged, were his proud "kinder- 
garten". They were not young men 



like Milner's entourage, but old well 
tried veterans. 

Darwin he had already studied and 
mastered as a young man. At an early 
age it had made a convert of him to the 
concept of evolution. Evolution led 
through palaeontology and anthro- 
pology to the broad aspect of pre- 
history. Prehistory brought him into 
contact with the caves and Stone-Age 
artefact cultures of this country. He 
persuaded van Riet Lowe to give up 
his structural engineering work with 
the Public Works Department and to 
start a new Bureau of Archaeology at 
the Witwatersrand University. 

For myself I can only say how 
patiently and painstakingly he 
encouraged me as a child when he saw 
that I had a certain flair for prehistory. 
He never developed any marked 
proficiency as a practical 



archaeologist, but on the theoretical 
side his knowledge was enormous. 
When out fossicking or camping he 
would spend his time botanising, 
while I dabbled in the simpler and 
more mundane pastime of collecting 
stone implements. Such is the 
profusion of the handiwork of 
primitive man in this country, that one 
can readily assemble collections 
almost anywhere. On returning from 
our tramps I would show him my 
stones, and he would then enthuse 
over them almost as much as over his 
own botanical specimens; which I 
need hardly add, were always very 
dear to his heart. 

In July, 1932, at Durban my father 
delivered a lecture to the South 
African Association for the Advance- 
ment of Science on "Climate and Man 
in Africa". This, no less than the 



address of 1925 I have just quoted, 
was a remarkable document and even 
now, almost twenty years later, I still 
consider it the best of its type 
produced in this country. I say it is 
remarkable, for here my father was 
dealing in great detail with a subject 
he had not really studied intimately 
before, but one which was still fluid 
and controversial and one which the 
timid experts shrank from tackling. He 
was dealing with the highly 
contentious details of man's 
evolutionary path, he was working on 
a time scale over which there was as 
yet no general agreement, and he was 
attempting correlations between 
various countries that had not 
previously been linked, The result was 
a well-balanced, lucid and well- 
presented paper which astonished 
many people who looked upon him as 



a botanist or philosopher or broad- 
aspect scientist. 

This present paper on man and climate 
really had its origins on his bushveld 
farm. Here he had twenty enormous 
Apiesdoring (Acacia galpinii) thorn 
trees growing. They are as big as any 
in the sub-continent and were a source 
of great pride to him. But they are also 
an indication of a former wetter 
climate, for they are moisture-loving 
trees. They suggested to him the idea 
of exploring the past climates of our 
country from the botanical aspect. The 
idea was fortified by the gnarled camel 
thorn trees (Acacia giraff) growing 
near by, which in turn are remnants of 
a formerly drier climate. So he turned 
over in his mind the idea of this 
climatic paper, but the more he 
thought of it the more he realised that 
the botanical aspect had limitations 



and that prehistory held out much 
better evidence. So he switched the 
basis of the study to the Stone Age. 

The result was the most specialised 
scientific paper he ever produced. I 
shall not try to set out his ideas in this 
book. He indicated, in detail, the 
events of the last Ice Age in Europe, in 
so far as it concerned both climate and 
primitive man. These results he then 
correlated with those of the Union, 
using East Africa as a stepping-stone, 
showing that the various separate 
advances of the ice sheets of this 
period had corresponding phases of 
rainfall or drought in Africa. It sounds 
comparatively simple, but it is a highly 
delicate study, which even now, with 
the passage of many years, still 
produces conflicting emotions in the 
breasts of scientists. He concludes 



with this tragic reflection on the 
Bushman: 



As they were racially and physically 
not very different 15,000 years ago, 
what has caused the immense 
difference between the European and 
Bushman today? We see in one the 
leading race of the world, while the 
other, though still living, has become a 
mere human fossil, verging on 
extinction. We sec the one crowned 
with all the intellectual and spiritual 
glory of the race, while the other still 
occupies the lowest scale in human 
existence. If race has not made the 
difference, what has? Of course the 
question is far too speculative, and our 
ignorance of all the essential condi- 
tions far too profound, to make any 
attempt at an answer worth while! 



But two points may, perhaps, be 
usefully stressed in this connection. In 
the first place, if environment has any 
influence on human evolution, we may 
look to the physical conditions under 
which the Bushman and his ancestors 
have lived for this last 8,000 years and 
more as an excuse for his degeneracy. 
No doubt he has gone backward; his 
brain capacity is even smaller than that 
of Fish Hoek man, who, in turn, shows 
a smaller brain capacity than Boskop 
Man. The Bushman has been 
physically dwarfed and shrivelled and 
mentally stunted by nature. Nobody, 
who has seen him in his present haunts 
in the Kalahari, or who knew him a 
generation or two ago in other parts of 
the Union, will deny that he has 
become a desert animal, carved and 
moulded by the desert, just as much as 
the rest of our desert animals or plants. 



His desert nature is inbred in him, and 
he is an additional proof of the semi- 
arid environment which South Africa 
must have presented for many 
millennia. And now that desert 
conditions are being ameliorated by 
the ironic touch of civilisation, there is 
nothing left for him but to disappear... 

Professor M. R. Drennan of Cape 
Town University described it as "... a 
real landmark in the science of 
Anthropology and I feel certain it is 
going to be much sought after as a 
classic on the subject". 



The interesting thing to note about my 
father's entry on to the scientific stage 
is that it lasted only eight years, from 
1925 to 1932. That does not mean that 
this was necessarily a period of abnor- 
mally intensified effort on his part, for 



in fact he kept continuously abreast of 
scientific matters at all times. The 
explanation is, of course, that this 
period corresponds with the time he 
was out of government office. It meant 
that now, for the first time, he had the 
leisure to sit down and put his ideas on 
paper. To lead the masses of his 
people has meant a loss to 
contemporary science and philosophy. 
To him personally, too, it was a 
sadness that he could not do what he 
really liked. 

Holism he started writing almost 
immediately his Government was 
defeated in 1924. His frenzied tackling 
of the task was perhaps a measure of 
chagrin and frustration at his treatment 
by the public, but I think it was more 
the realisation of a long pent-up urge 
to tackle his magnum opus. He wrote 
it hastily, too hastily, he feels, to do 



the subject real justice. But his 
intention had always been to finish off 
his ideas in a final volume. 

His great mental activity at this time 
was by no means confined to his 
exposition of the holistic concept. At 
the same time he was delving almost 
boyishly into the joys of botany, both 
written and in the field. He had always 
taken a mild interest in botany, ever 
since he had wandered about the 
mountains at Stellenbosch in his 
college days. But it was a mild, semi- 
dormant interest always, which never 
really obtruded forcibly on his daily 
life and habits. 

Now the study of plants burst forth as 
a full-fledged insatiable hobby. He 
never proceeded into the veld without 
his magnifying glass or his clipping 
shears, and as far as he wandered he 
paused and examined plants and 



grasses. This really active phase of 
collecting and studying corresponded 
in duration with the same quiet 
political period 1925 to 1934. 
Thereafter, though his interest never 
slackened or cooled off, he simply did 
not have the leisure to devote to his 
hobby, though he would still often be 
found with his books or looking 
through the collections in his small 
herbarium. In the active period he 
planned trips whenever possible into 
the wilds for botanical research. These 
trips led him as far afield as Lake 
Tanganyika, Lake Nyasa, the Victoria 
Falls, the Zimbabwe Ruins, the 
Zoutpansberg (which he said was 
particularly interesting), the 

Blaauwberg, Portuguese East Africa, 
etc., quite apart from expeditions in 
the Transvaal bushveld and the 
mountains of the Cape. Many of these 



areas had not been seriously touched 
by collectors before and his collections 
were therefore of special interest and 
contained many new species. His 
mountaineering ability and great 
energy took him to remote places. 

But his virtues as a great botanist lay 
not only in his field work. He was also 
a well-read botanist and knew the 
bibliography and history of botany. He 
read not only English botanical works, 
but also those of the famous German 
writers. He knew not only 
contemporary botanists but was an 
authority on the works of the old 
travellers and naturalists. And he was 
also well acquainted with the works of 
the palaeo-botanists such as his old 
friends Professor Seward and Dr. 
Marie Stopes and others. He knew the 
botany of Mesozoic Gondwanaland 
almost as well as the Flora Capensis. 



And in addition he had considerable 
knowledge of the botany of other 
countries. 

In botany, as in prehistory, Southern 
Africa is a country of great interest. 
The vastness of the geographical areas, 
the differences in climate and 
elevation, the profusion of grasses as 
well as shrubs and trees, and the 
additional strange flora of the Cape 
make it a country unsurpassed in 
number or variety. The Union has 
about ten thousand different species of 
grasses, and these with their intricate 
Latin nomenclature form more than a 
full-time study. Add to that an 
additional thirty or forty thousand 
plants, shrubs and trees and the 
formidable nature of botanical study in 
this country will be appreciated. The 
flora of the tip of the Cape alone is as 



extensive as that of the whole of Great 
Britain. 

No wonder that in botany my father 
found a hobby to test his mettle. 

To him botany was a study of living 
things set in indigenous surroundings. 
The artificials and exotics of our man- 
made gardens did not interest him. 
True, he liked a blaze of colour, but 
that was all. He appreciated only wild 
plants, growing undisturbed in their 
wild setting. Once having collected a 
certain plant he would be satisfied 
merely to admire it and leave it undis- 
turbed in future. The plants he took 
home he either put in his presses or 
studied carefully before discarding 
them again. When in doubt he 
consulted experts and collections in 
herbariums. He often went to great 
pains to collect certain specimens. 
Tales are told by friends of hair-raising 



scrambles along precipices to collect 
tempting-looking specimens. 

Sometimes a whole protracted 
expedition would be planned with the 
sole object of finding some rare plant 
collected long before by some of our 
noted explorers. Travelling with my 
father by car was often quite an ordeal, 
for he would stop frequently and 
wander off into the bush to make his 
collections, leaving one sitting hot and 
disconsolate in the car. But though he 
took our chidings and complaints in 
good nature, he never mended his 
ways. He brushed away opposition 
here, as in public life. 

Botany to him was largely an African 
study and though I have fossicked 
with him in England and America, I 
noticed he never took the same active 
interest in plants there. 



58 : Fusion 

Upon the death of Tielman Roos, Dr. 
Malan became heir apparent to 
Hertzog. For various reasons, one of 
which was that he considered Hertzog 
too aged for leadership and too 
moderate, he declined to serve under 
his old leader and now split off and 
formed a small group of his own, 
known as the Purified Nationalist 
Party. He was not interested in a post 
in the new Cabinet. 

To many people the most remarkable 
thing about coalition was the complete 
change of heart it brought about in 
General Hertzog. It was a really 
commendable effort. No person could 
have tried harder than the General to 
make the partnership work, or to have 
co-operated more actively. Nor was it 
a shallow veneer. He saw to it that it 
was to be the greatest work of his life. 



For it, he deserves full credit. In 
private life he had always been a 
courteous and chivalrous man, and he 
now brought these attributes to bear in 
the Coalition. He had no light task, for 
in his ranks were many who did not 
agree with him and attacked him 
whenever possible. He remained loyal 
to my father, and turned his ferocity on 
his new critics. 

My father added the major share to the 
success of the Coalition movement. To 
do so he completely effaced himself. 
This was not difficult, for personal 
position and status in life held no great 
lure for him. He was quite prepared to 
withdraw quietly into the background 
and to allow Hertzog the limelight. It 
was, in fact, a sound policy to follow. 
But there were times when the Prime 
Minister wandered off the beaten 
track, when my father found it almost 



impossible to remain impassive and to 
swallow things that went against his 
principles. He did this for the sake of 
the country. 

The personal side of the association of 
the two leaders presented no 
difficulties, for though Hertzog and 
my father had differed for years on 
political matters, they had throughout, 
in private, remained on friendly terms. 
My father had never taken Hertzog's 
wild outbursts to heart, and I never 
once in private heard him complain 
about his opponent's attacks. General 
Hertzog, away from politics, was, in 
fact, a retiring and likeable person. 

A brief Session of Parliament followed 
the elections of 1933. Resolutions 
were flowing in from Party branches 
all over the country requesting that the 
partnership should ripen into some- 
thing closer, called Fusion. Malan's 



followers, already sorely annoyed at 
Coalition, now broke away completely 
from Hertzog whom from now on they 
attacked vigorously. 

The 1934 Session was notable for the 
passing of the Status Bills. Malan had 
been the prime mover in raising the 
issue with Hertzog. These Bills were 
introduced to "clarify" the position 
brought about by the 1932 Statute of 
Westminster, which accorded the 
Dominions an equal partnership with 
Britain, in so far as external affairs 
were concerned. The actual purpose of 
Dr. Malan's motion was, however, to 
whip up the old bogy of complete 
independence from Britain, an idea 
which was tied up with republicanism 
and other factors. 

My father did not favour the Status 
Bills. He did not see the need for 
them, but saw, instead, a great danger 



in tampering with the Union's 
constitution, and felt that it would 
have been wiser to leave the position 
as defined in the past. If he had had his 
way the Bills would never have been 
introduced. But once having made up 
his mind, Hertzog insisted. Thereafter 
my father did his best to moderate and 
placate the Afrikaans and English sec- 
tions. The attachment to the Kill, in 
many was deep-rooted. Colonel 
Stallard maintained that the Bills 
undermined the sovereign position of 
the monarch and weakened the ties of 
Commonwealth, and resigned to form 
a strongly pro-British Dominion Party. 
His few adherents were mostly from 
Natal. 

The implication of the Statute of West- 
minster, which brought about a natural 
consummation of the Balfour 
Declaration of 1926, was to form a 



major source of contention in later 
years. In the Act of Union of 1910 
there were certain entrenched clauses, 
and certain other clauses were 
prescribed to protect them. These 
safeguarding clauses laid down that 
the entrenched clauses could only be 
altered by a two-thirds majority of 
both Houses sitting together. The Act 
of Union and the Statute of 
Westminster are both British 
parliamentary pacts. The contention, 
later to be introduced by certain 
constitutional lawyers and Nationalist 
politicians, was that as both acts are 
British, the Statute superseded our Act 
of Union, and that we were now at 
liberty to modify our own Act at will, 
without regard to the old two-thirds 
majority safeguard. 

In 1951 this point was to become one 
of the biggest issues yet faced by our 



Parliament, when Dr. Malan's 
Government introduced a change in 
the Cape Coloured franchise, which 
happens to be entrenched in our Act. 
Coloureds have enjoyed franchise 
rights in the Cape since 1853. 

My father, as the architect of the Act 
of Union, must have been well aware 
of the intentions and implications of 
that Act. In addition he was also an 
authority on constitutional law. His 
views, both private and public, were 
that the entrenched clauses of the Act 
were in no way affected by the Statute 
of Westminster. 

At the time the Statute became 
operative in 1931 he foresaw the 
possibility of future trouble and did his 
best to get the House to declare that 
the Act of Union was in no way 
affected. Members, not so far-sighted, 
while agreeing on this point, were in- 



clined to regard it as an academic issue 
and it got little support. General 
Hertzog, who did not share my 
father's anxiety, willingly accepted an 
amendment by my father "that the 
proposed legislation will in no way 
derogate from the entrenched 
provisions of the South Africa Act". 
He confirmed it still further, by stating 
that "man to man - it is our view that 
the protection of Section 152 cannot 
be taken away". 

When the Act of Union was being 
drafted the question of the 
incorporation into the Union of the 
three British Protectorates, 

Basutoland, Bechuanaland and 
Swaziland, was considered. The idea 
met with full approval, but at the time 
it was felt that the Union would have 
so much to attend to in the next few 
years that it should not be burdened at 



that stage with the incorporation of the 
Protectorates. The idea was that 
Britain was to continue their 
administration for perhaps half a 
dozen years, where after the Union 
was to take over all responsibilities. It 
has been a long six years, for in 1951 
the transfer was still hanging fire. 

The position now is that while South 
Africa owns the title deeds of the 
Protectorates, Britain still administers 
them. The stumbling-block has been 
largely one of colour prejudice. Britain 
does not approve of the South African 
views on the native question, and 
throughout the years this has been her 
standpoint for refusal to transfer. My 
father has for many years, in private, 
impressed on Britain the need for a 
timely, but gradual, transfer. 
Otherwise, he said, Britain would one 
day find herself ill a difficult position 



and might have to do an over-hasty 
and undignified withdrawal. With a 
Nationalist Government in power, the 
issue might well have its hazards. 

Soon after completing the final 
arrangements of Fusion, my father was 
on his way to Britain again. He could 
well afford to leave the Union, for 
matters were proceeding more 
smoothly than for many years, and the 
country was prosperous and booming. 



59 : Distant Rumblings 

In 1924 the British, having grown tired 
of Mr. Lloyd George, rejected this 
great fighter. Thereafter followed 
Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin 
and Neville Chamberlain. It was not a 
glorious phase in the history of 
Britain. It was a period of indecision 
and vacillation and in the end appease- 
ment: not the appeasement of power 
and confidence, but humiliating 
appeasement from weakness. Britain 
still remained a first-class power on 
land and at sea only because the rest of 
the world at the time was luckily also 
at a low ebb. 

This weakness was to have far- 
reaching repercussions, for evil men in 
other countries were to see their 
chance and take their risk. For the 
League it was also catastrophic that 
Britain and the other powers had not 



the strength or the will to enforce its 
clauses or to impose sanctions. 

Manchukuo in 1932 was the first test 
case. Here Japan in flagrant violation 
of international law and without any 
pretext, except self-aggrandisement, 
invaded helpless Manchukuo and 
proceeded to conquer it. It was a clear- 
cut case of aggression. The League 
met to consider the position. Nothing 
more happened and the incident was 
accepted with little more than a shrug 
of the shoulders. 

This conspicuous display of weakness 
was not lost upon the other would-be 
aggressors. 

In 1936 Franco, grown tired of the 
corruption in Spain, and intolerant of 
opposition, and also seeing a great 
opportunity for an ambitious man, 
started a long and bloody war which 



cost a million lives and brought untold 
misery on the population. The great 
powers used Spain as a testing 
laboratory for their new weapons. 
Here Germany, in support of the 
Franco regime, for the first time tried 
out her guns, her tanks and her dive 
bombers. On their success here she 
based her assessments of their future 
effectiveness in a world war. 

Russian volunteers supported the Left, 
as did volunteer men from Ireland and 
elsewhere. In the end Franco's cause 
prevailed, and with it once more might 
over justice. 

In Italy Benito Mussolini, a bombastic 
showman, had visions of making Italy 
once more great. He had had limited 
success as a newspaper man, but had 
ambition and energy. As a platform he 
championed the underdog and rapidly 
rose in popularity, his earlier and 



greatest works being associated with 
the peasantry and agriculture. In later 
days, to symbolise their earlier 
beginnings, he used to help in the 
harvesting of the wheat during the 
festivals. With his rise in popularity 
came a swelling of the head and more 
pugnacious thrusting out of his 
massive chin. His oratory impressed 
the populace and stirred them to 
renewed activity. But greatness was 
incomplete unless it was backed by 
military might. So Mussolini dreamed 
of a mighty Italian army and the 
restoration of Nice, Corsica and Jibuti. 
Later he became fanatical about their 
return. But meantime there was other 
work to do. There was the stigma of a 
distant disaster at Adowa in Abyssinia, 
in 1896, to wipe out. And so, fully 
confident that the impotence of the 
League would preclude any drastic 



reactions, he attacked this wild African 
State and Emperor Haile Selassie in 
1935. General Grazziani pushed the 
campaign on with great vigour and 
ruthlessness, at times not even 
neglecting the advantage of the use of 
mustard gas. After hectic League 
meetings sanctions were agreed upon 
and a mild form of blockade ensued. It 
was left to the Royal Navy to apply it 
in the Mediterranean. Here one of her 
vessels was mysteriously torpedoed by 
what everybody knew to be an Italian 
submarine, but the Fleet was too short 
of ammunition to risk a showdown. 

The issue was never in doubt. 
Abyssinia succumbed and once more 
might had prevailed. 

In 1934, despite my father's previous 
advice that everything should be done 
to remain friendly with Japan, and 
keep her in the League where her 



actions could be closely watched, she 
decided to withdraw. Germany had 
already done so a few years 
previously, and henceforth her military 
preparations were wrapped in 
dangerous obscurity. Just how 
dangerous, the world was to find out 
in 1939. 

Let us see what happened in Germany 
after the war. The peace terms and 
reparations rankled sorely with her, 
and all those dangerous complexes, 
which my father had predicted at 
Versailles, materialised. She became 
uncooperative and resentful. The 
country was poor and exhausted and 
beset with unemployment and labour 
difficulties. It proved a fertile ground 
for discordant elements. All the more 
so because of the lack of strong 
leadership. Hindenburg, when he 
became President of the Reich in 



1925, was ancient and passe, and 
unable to cope with the situation. 
Earlier on my father had hoped that 
von Lettow Vorbeck might assume 
control, but a petty indiscretion had 
put him out of the running. 

In a beer cellar in Munich Adolf Hitler 
and his die-hard supporters were 
holding rallies and evolving ambitious 
plans. They organised big 
demonstrations which the police were 
powerless to break up. By 1933 it was 
plain that the fuming fanatic was 
becoming a leader. In the following 
year he became Chancellor of the 
German Reich. He had been a corporal 
in the First World War. He was a loud 
and tempestuous speaker with a great 
power over .the masses. His doctrine 
was the fruitful one of the injustices 
done to Germany. Germany was not 
beaten in the last war. She was still 



unconquered. One day she would 
again be great. He hypnotised the 
masses. They grew to believe him. He 
claimed the former German colonies. 
While in prison, he wrote a book 
called Mein Kampf, which set out his 
ideas and aspirations, and which was 
to become the bible of the German 
people. 

While Britain was still preaching and 
practising disarmament, Hitler began 
to build up a great war machine. The 
best scientific brains went into the 
design of equipment, and production 
went on apace under the financial 
wizardry of Dr. Schacht. And so, with 
the growth of his Wehrmacht and his 
Luftwaffe and Navy, Hitler became 
more confident and bellicose. Britain 
under Baldwin and Neville 
Chamberlain was still placidly 



sleeping, naively believing that it was 
a time for butter, not for guns. 

Russia made one sign as if to awaken 
from her obscure Asiatic slumbers and 
lunged out against Finland; but 
Finland, under Mannerheim, fought 
back with such effect that Russia was 
only too glad to come to terms. This 
campaign falsely convinced the world 
of Russian weakness. It was later, 
providentially, to lead Hitler into his 
greatest blunder. 

France was in a poor plight. Utterly 
exhausted, impoverished and devas- 
tated by the First World War, in which 
she had borne the brunt of the Prussian 
might, she was now in no state to 
settle down. The masses were 
dispirited and workless, and Leftist 
ideas were turning to outright Commu- 
nistic persuasion. Leadership was 
lacking or of the poorest order, and 



governments came and went with the 
phases of the moon. France was 
drifting. The outlawing of Commu- 
nism, later, only had the effect of 
forcing it underground where, as my 
father had predicted, it became far 
more dangerous and insidious. 

France blamed Britain for much. 
When Hitler marched into the 
Rhineland she begged that they should 
drive the Germans out again; for at the 
time France was still comparatively 
strong and Germany weak. Britain 
refused and France liked Britain none 
the more for it. It was an uneasy 
partnership. 

Hitler said he had no quarrel with 
Britain beyond the question of 
colonies. At one time I really think he 
meant it. But later his feelings changed 
into something more sinister. Yet 
many in Britain were still not to doubt 



Hitler's intentions. They were the 
appeasers, and there were very large 
numbers of them. 

In vain the voice of Winston Churchill 
cried out to awaken and to warn. In 
vain Henry Strakosch sent confidential 
reports to Britain of what was taking 
place on the Continent. The mood was 
one of unshakable complacency. 
Nothing but the rumble of guns would 
dissipate it. 

Firm in his convictions about the 
coming storms on the international 
horizon, my father did his best, like 
Mr. Churchill, to awaken Britain and 
to warn the world. This was no easy 
matter. The people were in no mood to 
be shaken from their happy-go-lucky 
air of complacency, even though they 
had grave misgivings about the trend 
of events. My father lost no 
opportunity of pointing out the 



dangers and the dark forces that were 
threatening freedom, and the 
monstrous evils that were abroad 
undermining the minds of peoples in 
the totalitarian states. The task was 
long and difficult. In Britain Prime 
Minister Neville Chamberlain, a well- 
meaning and sincere, but out-of-touch 
idealist, was being outwitted by the 
Axis and was hoping to gain time by 
means of concessions to Hitler. From 
the abortive Munich Conference with 
the German Fuehrer he came back, 
confident and elated, with a little slip 
of paper in his hand. He had concluded 
an agreement with Hitler, and there 
would be "peace in our time". Never 
for a moment did the apostle of 
appeasement doubt the word of the 
Fuehrer. The poor Czechoslovak 
people who were the victims of his 
betrayal and who had on the flimsiest 



pretext lost the Sudetenland on the 
grounds of self-determination to a 
German minority, felt differently 
about Mr. Chamberlain and his scrap 
of paper. 

It was this problem of gullibility and 
complacency and make believe that 
the lone voices had to combat. At his 
rectoral address to St. Andrews 
University in Scotland in 1934 the 
theme was "Freedom", and my 
father's speech here on this occasion, 
which I rank among one of his most 
memorable, made a great impression. 
It was a call to Britain to wake up and 
to take heed of what was happening on 
the Continent. It was a timely warning, 
for already Nazism and Fascism were 
beginning to swallow up rapaciously 
all those freedoms that were so dear to 
us. With the rise of Fascist ideas a 
great intolerance began to grow in 



Fascist countries. Personal liberties 
were one after another curtailed or 
abolished. They became fear states. 
The Gestapo were there to see to it. No 
whisper, no thought, was any longer 
safe. 

The full hatred of the Nazis was 
poured out upon the hapless Jews. It is 
not clear what they had done to incur 
Nazi scorn and envy, and even odium. 
But the Nazis turned on them with un- 
suppressed hatred, and as time went on 
with active persecution. Millions of 
Jews were to perish before the Nazi 
machine was curbed. Liberties had 
gone. Germany became a great hand- 
raising, heel-clicking "yes" state. 

This was the dim pattern of events. 
My father saw it all clearly. 



60 : Freedom 

My father's 1934 visit to Britain was a 
memorable one, for during his stay he 
delivered two extremely important 
speeches on international affairs and 
many lesser ones. 

These two addresses I would 
unhesitatingly rank among his 
greatest. His speeches on international 
affairs are all unique. They were 
addressed to world audiences and were 
clarion calls to peoples rather than 
reviews of events. In all, the trend of 
events was stressed and remedies 
proffered to forestall disaster. Often 
they became the adopted policies of 
nations. They carried not only 
warnings, but also messages of hope. 
The language was simple and the facts 
and reasoning lucid and 
straightforward. When he wanted to be 
explicit no one could state his case 



more clearly or courageously. What 
these talks meant to the Empire only 
history will one day be able to assess. 

On the 17th October he delivered his 
Rectoral Address at St. Andrews 
University in Scotiand. In this time of 
the awakening of the dark forces of 
Fascism and Nazism, the tide was 
fittingly "Freedom". And equally 
fittingly it was addressed to the young 
people of the oldest University in 
Scotland. Here, as in all his great 
addresses, he was in good humour. 
The mood could never be mistaken 
and he carried himself and his 
audiences along in the same good 
humour. So it was at St. Andrews. I 
shall quote his speech fairly fully. 

Professor Blyth Webster, introducing 
my father, said: "Skilled in war, no 
less potent in peace as an administrator 
and statesman ... True as only the 



brave are ... he is at once our advocate 
and our example of that peace 'whose 
name is one with honour born of war'. 
He showed us the practice and taught 
us the persistence of our own best 
ideals." 

After expressing thanks for his 
election and paying tribute to his 
defeated opponent, my father said: 

The principal's remark carried my 
mind back to the first occasion I had 
heard mention of the Scots. My people 
were small farming folk in the old 
Cape Colony, and when I was a very 
small boy I used to frequent the 
company of an old Hottentot shepherd 
of my father, who used to delight me 
with stories from his native folklore. 
He had also been to several Kaffir 
wars, and could tell me of his own 
wonderful feats of arms in those 
border campaigns. I listened 



enthralled. At that time the first Boer 
War - the one that ended at Majuba - 
was going on, and I remember asking 
him whom he thought would win. 
From his great military knowledge he 
had no doubt that the British would 
win. I asked him whether he thought 
the English were the greatest nation in 
the world, and he replied "No"; there 
was one nation still greater who lived 
in the farthest land in the world; they 
were the greatest of all nations and 
even the British were very much afraid 
of them. They were called the "Scots". 
That was my first introduction to the 
Scots - and such was my introducer! 
The principal must be right. Now, 54 
years after those historic 
conversations, I find myself the rector 
of a famous university of this land - of 
romance, as the principal calls it - of 



the greatest of peoples, as old Adam, 
the Hottentot, called it. 

I shall not venture to flatter you, and 
so I am bound to confess that in the 
sense of greatness meant by old Adam, 
he was wrong about Scotland. I have 
subsequentiy learnt that the Scots are, 
in fact, one of the small nations, 
although I do not intend to say so 
outside Scotland. To me and to us in 
our small beginnings in South Africa 
you are all the dearer on that account. 
We small ones of the earth feel 
mutually drawn to each other in a 
world which has largely gone crazy 
with the problems of size and scale. 
Both of us have learnt from Athens 
and Jerusalem that the real values were 
no respecters of dimensions. There 
were also other ties which link us 
together in common interests and 
sympathies of a more intimate 



character. There are the ties of kinship 
in the distant past, of a common 
religious faith, of common moral 
ideals. John Calvin and John Knox 
both belong to our invisible founda- 
tions, and there remains a community 
of spiritual outiook and moral values 
between our peoples which are among 
the most precious things we bring 
from our past. 

In particular we both cherish and 
practise liberty as the fundamental rule 
of life... 

You in Scotland have a great story 
behind you while we in Africa are 
only at the beginning of things. The 
best I could wish for my own young 
people, now beginning to set up house 
on its own account, is that its future 
story may not be so very different in 
outiine from yours. Like you, we have 
started in trouble and bloodshed. We 



still have our tribes just as you have 
had your clans. We are trying to come 
and grow together in nationhood, just 
as you have gloriously succeeded in 
your own union and internal peace- 
making. But more: you have set us an 
example how, while living your own 
life and maintaining and developing 
your own peculiar characteristics, to 
join in the larger life of a wider group, 
and thereby to make your contribution 
to the upbuilding of human civilisation 
and the establishment of a 
Commonwealth which today secures 
peace and opportunities for the good 
life to one-fourth of the human race. 
Your success in this wider theatre has 
gone far to justify old Adam the 
Hottentot in his high opinion of the 
Scots. They have overflowed their 
narrow national boundaries and have 
reinforced human life and endeavour 



all over the world, and most of all in 
undeveloped countries like those on 
the African continent... 

But, as I said, we are still at the 
beginnings. At this moment we are 
trying to lay the enduring basis of 
peace in our national life. Nowhere in 
the Dominions has more good blood 
been shed. Nowhere has the political 
aftermath of war been more unpleasant 
and bitter. But we believe we are at 
last approaching the end of that 
chapter. In our politics and our racial 
relations we are at present concluding 
the grand pact of union and of fusion... 
The young nations of the world have 
their own contribution to make to the 
human causes, and they can best begin 
to do so by setting their house in order 
and pledging themselves afresh to the 
great human principles on which our 
Western civilisation rests. 



In the old world - in the motherlands 
of out European civilisation - those 
principles are no longer considered 
sacrosanct and are being widely 
challenged and even openly defied. 
The things which Thomas Carlyle in 
the past century classed with the 
eternal verities are today being 
relegated to his limbo of old clothes. 
With the cataclysm of the Great War 
the whole European order threatens to 
collapse and in the ruins to involve the 
most precious treasures along with the 
accumulated rubbish of the nineteenth 
century. The catastrophe has been so 
sudden and unexpected that we have 
not yet had time to do the necessary 
sifting, to save the treasures from the 
waste of the middenheap. There has 
been no time yet to readjust our 
viewpoints, to take new bearings. 



Mankind stands perplexed and baffled 
before the new situation and the new 
problems. There is fear, a sense of 
insecurity among the nations. The 
primeval dread of the unknown is once 
more upon us, and the dark irrational 
forces of the past are once more 
stalking forward from their obscure 
background. We have the paralysing 
sense of having failed. The fair 
promise of nineteenth-century 
progress has ended in defeat and 
frustration and disillusion. There has 
been a double failure. There was the 
failure of the Great War, which 
seemed to be a negation of the 
principles on which the comity of our 
Christian civilisation had been 
laboriously built up, and there was the 
no-less deep and poignant failure of 
the peace, when at a vital moment, a 
critical occasion for Western 



civilisation, human goodwill appeared 
to be unequal to its task, and the great 
hopes for a better ordering of the 
future were rudely disappointed. Such 
a chance comes but once in a whole 
era of history, and we missed it. The 
politics which is founded on despair or 
desperation, which covers many 
European countries today with 
dangerous political experiments, and 
in others endangers peace and 
paralyses disarmament, has sprung 
largely from this second failure and 
the slaughter of ideals which it 
involved - a slaughter no less grievous 
than that of our millions in the war. 
There was this double human failure, 
which has wounded, so to say, the 
very soul of mankind, and left it with 
insufficient faith and confidence to 
sustain the causes and the institutions 
which are essential to our civilisation. 



No wonder there is abroad a spirit of 
pessimism and even of despair. So 
many high hopes have been dashed. 
Science, the proudest product of the 
human reason, the greatest instrument 
of human progress, the voice of God 
to our day and generation, has at the 
same time become the most dangerous 
weapon for our self-destruction. 
Democracy, with its promise of 
international peace, has been no better 
guarantee against war than the old 
dynastic rule of kings. International 
trade and commerce, which were 
supposed to pave a sure way to better 
understanding among the nations and a 
peaceful world, have instead led to 
economic nationalism, and thereby 
opened up new sources of 
international friction and trouble. One 
by one the vast expectations born of 
the progress of the last century have 



been falsified, and today we face a 
bleak world, bereft of the vast capital 
destroyed in the war, even doubting 
the principles on which our civilisation 
is built, without confidence in 
ourselves and our destiny, and with no 
clear vision of the road before us. We 
console ourselves with the truism that 
we are living in most interesting times. 
But the hard truth is that they are the 
most anxious and critical times that 
mankind has faced for many centuries. 
Speaking here today to you, the young 
people of this university, an old hard- 
bitten campaigner like myself might 
be asked how I view the prospect 
before us. What message I have from 
my own experience, as one who has 
gone through the immense experience 
of our generation to those who now 
stand on the threshold of this strange 
new world... My fundamental 



impression of life I can give you in 
words which most of you know from 
your childhood. They occur on the 
first page of the greatest book in the 
world. They come from the youth of 
the world, and today in its maturity 
they are truer than ever. The world is 
good. This is a good world. We need 
not approve of all the items in it, nor 
of all the individuals in it; but the 
world itself, which is more than its 
parts or individuals, which has a soul, 
a spirit, a pull, a fundamental relation 
to each of us deeper than all other 
relations, is a friendly world. It has 
borne us; it has carried us onward; it 
has humanised us and guided our 
faltering footsteps throughout the long 
and slow advance; it has endowed us 
with strength and courage; it has 
proved a real vale of soul-making for 
us humans, and created for us visions, 



dreams, ideals which are still further 
moulding us on, eternal lines. It is full 
of tangles, of ups and downs. There is 
always enough to bite on, to sharpen 
wits on, to test our courage and 
manhood. It is indeed a world built for 
heroism, but also for beauty, 
tenderness, mercy. I have passed 
through pretty rough passages. 

I have sampled the world and human 
nature at many points, and I have 
learnt that it takes all sorts to make a 
world. But through it all my 
conviction has only deepened that 
there is nothing in the nature of things 
which is alien to what is best in us. 
There is no malign fatalism which 
makes fools of us in our dark striving 
towards the good. On the contrary, 
what is highest in us is deepest in the 
nature of things, and as virtue is its 
own reward, so life carries its own 



sanctions and the guarantee of its own 
highest fulfilments and perfections. 
That is my ultimate Credo; and it is 
not founded on hearsay, but on my 
first-hand experience in that cross- 
section of the world which I have lived 
through... I remain at heart an 
optimist. 

In spite of the international friction of 
today there is today more real 
goodwill and good feeling in the world 
than ever before. Contact with the 
common people everywhere is 
sufficient to convince us of that fact. 
There is no decadence abroad, but 
everywhere the signs of new life and 
of new forces on the move. In all our 
feverish activity I see no spirit of 
defeatism. Indeed, much in the purely 
human situation is deeply 
encouraging... 



But discounting the serious risk of war 
in the near future, there still remain 
other grave dangers facing our 
civilisation. There is a decay of 
principles, which is eating at the very 
vitals of free government, and to me 
that appears to be a far more serious 
danger to our future than the risk of 
war. There is today a decay of the 
individual's responsibility and share in 
government which seems to strike at 
the roots of our human advance. 

For me the individual is basic to any 
world order that is worth while. 
Individual freedom, individual 
independence of mind, individual 
participation in the difficult work of 
government seems to me essential to 
all true progress. Yet today the 
individual seems more and more at a 
discount in the new experiments in 
government which are being tried out. 



The sturdy individualism which 
inspired progress in the past, which 
made Rome, which made Scotland, 
which has created all our best human 
values, seems to be decaying in the 
atmosphere of lassitude and disillusion 
of our day. Men and women have 
suffered until they are abdicating their 
rights as individuals. In their misery 
and helplessness they are surrendering 
to the mass will which leads straight to 
autocracy. The feebleness of 
Continental democracy, its 

ineffectiveness in a crisis calling for 
swift and decisive action, has 
contributed to this defeatist attitude of 
the individual. And the result is that 
with this individualist prop of freedom 
gone, freedom itself seems to be in 
danger. A new sort of hero worship is 
arising, very different from that which 
Carlyle preached, which saps the very 



foundations of individuality and 
makes the individual prostrate himself 
before his national leader as before a 
god. That way extreme danger lies. 

The disappearance of the sturdy, 
independent minded, freedom loving 
individual, and his replacement by a 
servile mass mentality is the greatest 
human menace of our time. Here we 
reach what I firmly believe is the heart 
of the problem, the issue round which 
the greatest battles of this and the 
coming generation will be fought - if 
the cause of our civilisation itself is to 
be saved. As an old soldier in this 
cause I hope you will excuse me when 
I state thus bluntly my views on the 
dangers ahead as I see them. The issue 
of freedom, the most fundamental 
issue of all our civilisation, is once 
more squarely raised by what is 



happening in the world, and cannot be 
evaded. 

The danger signals are up in many 
colours and in many lands. The new 
tyranny, disguised in attractive 
patriotic colours, is enticing youth 
everywhere into its horrid service. 
Freedom must make a great counter- 
stroke to save itself and our fair 
Western civilisation. Once more the 
heroic call is coming to our youth. The 
fight for human freedom is indeed the 
supreme issue of the future, as it has 
always been in the past. 

Although the ancient homelands of 
constitutional liberty in the West are 
not yet seriously affected, we have to 
confess sadly that over large parts of 
Europe the cult of force - what in the 
Great War we used to call Prussianism 
- has for the moment triumphed. 
Popular self-government and 



parliament are disappearing. The 
guarantees for private rights and civil 
liberties are going. Minorities are 
trampled upon; dissident views are not 
tolerated and are forcibly suppressed. 
For those who do not choose to fall 
into line there is the concentration 
camp, the distant labour camp in the 
wilds or on the islands of the sea. 

Intellectual freedom is disappearing 
with political freedom. Freedom of 
conscience, of speech, of the Press, of 
thought and reaching is in extreme 
danger. One party in the State usurps 
power, and suppresses its opponents 
and becomes the State. The Press is 
made to write to order, and public 
opinion is manufactured for the 
support of the autocracy. Even 
freedom of religion is no longer safe, 
and religious persecution, after being 
long considered obsolete, once more 



shows its head. In many, if not most, 
European countries the standard of 
human freedom has already fallen far 
below that of the nineteenth century. 

Perhaps I do not exaggerate when I 
say that of what we call liberty in its 
full meaning-freedom of thought, 
speech, action, self-expression - there 
is today less in Europe than there has 
been during the last 2,000 years. In 
ancient Athens, in ancient Rome, there 
was at any rate freedom of thought and 
speculation and teaching, and 
generally of religion. Now in the 
twentieth century, intolerance 
threatens once more to become the 
order of the day. In spite of all our 
scientific expansion, our essential 
human rights are contracting. 

The new dictatorship is nothing but 
the old tyranny writ large. I fear the 
new tyranny more than I fear the 



danger of another great war. Tyranny 
is infectious. As Burke said, it is a 
weed which grows in all soils, and it is 
its nature to spread. Even in this island 
home of constitutional freedom, I do 
not know that you are quite immune. 
Democracy seems to be going out of 
favour and out of fashion, and unless 
its methods can be overhauled, its 
unpopularity may involve the cause of 
liberty itself. 

Let me state quite clearly that I am not 
against new experiments in human 
governments. The extraordinary 
difficulties and complications of 
modern government call for revised 
methods and new experiments. What I 
am here concerned with is the serious 
threat to freedom and self-government 
which is involved in the new experi- 
ments now being tried out on the 
Continent. They are all based on a 



denial of liberty - not as a temporary 
expedient, but on principle. 

The assertion that they aim at the 
eventual enlargement of liberty is vain 
in view of the fundamental negation of 
liberty on which they are based, and 
the absorption of the individual by a 
State or group, which is their real 
objective. 

I maintain that such a basis of human 
government is an anachronism, and a 
moral impossibility in our Western 
civilisation. The denial of free human 
rights must in the long run lead to a 
cataclysm... Dictatorship can only be 
tolerated as a temporary expedient, 
and can never be a permanent 
substitute for free self-government. 
Freedom is the most ineradicable 
craving of human nature. Without it 
peace, contentment and happiness, 
even manhood itself, are not possible. 



The declaration of Pericles in his great 
funeral oration holds for all time... 

"Happiness is freedom, and freedom is 
courage." That is the fundamental 
equation of all politics and all human 
government, and any system which 
ignores it is built on sand... 

In these days of widespread 
backsliding, of luke warmness or 
downright disloyalty to our funda- 
mental human ideals, the countries 
which have always been in the 
forefront of the historic fight for 
human liberty have a very grave duty 
imposed on them. They cannot refuse 
the challenge of the times. They dare 
not abandon the cause which our 
forefathers rightly placed along with 
religion itself as calling for the highest 
loyalty and the greatest sacrifices... 



In the long run only the spirit of inter- 
national comradeship can solve the 
problems of freedom and of peace. But 
in the meantime the supreme cause has 
to be kept going and to be safeguarded 
from all danger till the coming of a 
new renascence of the European 
spirit... 

The inner freedom and harmony of the 
soul; social freedom and equality 
before the law as the foundation of the 
State; international freedom in the rule 
of peace and justice; these should be 
the creative ideals of the new age, 
instead of sterilising the repressions of 
the past and still more sterilising the 
tyrannies which are forging new 
shackles for the human spirit. Creative 
freedom is the watchword of the new 
order to the realisation of which we 
should bend our energies. I have no 
doubt that the present disquieting 



phase will pass and a new renascence 
of the European spirit will follow. 

What a glorious opportunity to our 
youth today to live in times when the 
situation is once more fluid and the 
world is once more in the re-making. 
Are we going to leave a free field to 
those who threaten our fundamental 
human ideals and our proudest 
heritage from the past? Or are we 
going to join in battle - an age long 
battle which has been going forward 
from the dawn of history - for the 
breaking of our bonds and the 
enlargement of our range of free 
choice and free action? Remembering 
the great appeal of Pericles which 
rings through the ages let us seek our 
happiness in freedom, and bravely do 
our part in hastening the coming of the 
great day of freedom. 



61 : International Affairs 

The speech which my father made in 
November before the Royal Institute 
of International Affairs on British 
foreign policy was of even greater 
importance, and was at the time 
acclaimed by the British press. He 
pleaded for a generous recognition and 
equal status for Germany, for a policy 
of friendship with Japan, for a 
strengthening of the influence of the 
League of Nations and for a firm 
tackling of the problem now facing 
Manchukuo. Once more I quote fairly 
freely: 

Looking at the European situation 
today, as distinct from the wider world 
situation (to which I shall refer later), I 
am deeply impressed by the fact that 
two underlying forces are today 
creating and shaping policies - the fear 
complex and the inferiority complex. 



Both are dangerous complexes, the 
symptoms of disease and not of 
healthy growth, and unless they are 
treated on wise lines they may in the 
long run produce very serious 
consequences for the public mind and 
life of the world... Fear, the meanest of 
human motives, is today the master of 
us all. The victors of the Great War, so 
far from feeling secure in their victory, 
are, in fact, obsessed with this almost 
neurotic fear. And the vanquished are 
reacting in the obvious and inevitable 
way by refusing to accept their 
enforced inferiority and their position 
as second-class nations in the comity 
of civilisation... 

If Europe is to get back to the right 
road again, it seems to me necessary 
that the nations, both victors and 
vanquished, should be cured of their 
Freudian obsessions, should recover 



their commonsense and sanity, and 
should once more see things in their 
right and normal relations... Once 
Europeans admit to themselves that 
they are perhaps a little mad, the cure 
would come of itself. ... There is no 
doubt that the present spell will pass, 
but what irreparable mischief is not 
being done while it is on! Let states- 
men become the courageous doctors to 
their sick peoples, and the spell will 
soon pass... 

The remedy for this fear complex is 
the Freudian way of dragging it out 
from its hidden depths, bringing it into 
the open, and exposing it to the light 
of day. And this is exactly the method 
of the League of Nations. The League 
may not be a satisfactory source of 
security; it may be wanting in that 
element of sanctions which many 
consider so necessary. But, at any rate, 



it is an open forum for discussion 
among the nations; it is a round table 
for the statesmen, around which they 
can ventilate and debate their 
grievances and viewpoints... 

There are those who say that this is not 
enough - that as long as the League 
remains merely a talking shop or 
debating society, and is not furnished 
with "teeth" or proper sanctions, the 
sense of insecurity will remain, and 
the fear complex will continue to 
dominate international relations. It is 
also felt that the inability of the 
League to guarantee the collective 
system by means of force, if 
necessary, is discrediting it and 
leading to its rapid decay. It is said 
that the crucial case of Manchukuo has 
exposed its real weakness and shown 
that, unless armed with force to carry 



out its policies, it is doomed. My 
answer to this is twofold. 

In the first place, I cannot visualise the 
League as a military machine. It was 
not conceived or built for that purpose; 
it is not equipped for such functions. 
And if the attempt were now made to 
transform it into a military machine, 
into a system to carry on war for the 
purpose of preventing or ending war, I 
think its fate is sealed. I cannot 
conceive the dominions remaining in 
such a League and pledging 
themselves to fight the wars of the Old 
World, and if the dominions leave it, 
Great Britain is bound to follow. 

I cannot conceive anything more 
calculated to keep the U.S.A. for ever 
out of the League than its 
transformation into a fighting 
machine, pledged to carry out its 
decisions by force of arms if 



necessary. And remember the U.S.A. 
has still to join the League before it 
will ever be its real self. Membership 
of the U.S.A. was the assumption on 
which the League was founded; 
defection of the U.S.A. has largely 
defeated its main objects. And the 
joining up of the U.S.A. must continue 
to be the ultimate goal of all true 
friends of the League and of the cause 
of peace... 

But, in the second place, experience 
since the inception of the League, has 
in fact taught us the way out. Locarno 
has been incorporated into the League 
of the collective peace system. And 
Locarno establishes the principle of 
limited sanctions, of a smaller group 
within the League entering into mutual 
defensive arrangements under the 
aegis, and subject to the control, of the 
League. This does not throw the 



obligation to use force willy-nilly on 
all members, but binds only those who 
on grounds of their special situation 
and interests, choose to enter into such 
arrangements... 

How can the inferiority complex 
which is obsessing and, I fear, 
poisoning the mind, and indeed the 
very soul of Germany, be removed. 
There is only one way, and that is to 
recognise her complete equality of 
status with her fellows, and to do so 
frankly, freely and unreservedly. That 
is the only medicine for her disease. 
And when we have summoned up 
sufficient courage to treat her in that 
human way, as our equal in the comity 
of nations, then, and not till then, will 
the old wound cease to fester and 
poison the life of Europe and the 
world... 



While one understands and 
sympathises with French fears, one 
cannot but feel for Germany in the 
position of inferiority in which she 
still remains sixteen years after the 
conclusion of the war. The 
continuance of her Versailles status is 
becoming an offence to the conscience 
of Europe and a danger to future 
peace. Surely there is sufficient human 
fellow-feeling left in Europe to see 
that the position has become 
intolerable and a public danger. There 
is no place in international law for 
second-rate nations, and least of all 
should Germany be kept in that 
position half a generation after the end 
of the Great War... 

Some people consider magnanimity 
out of place in international affairs. I 
have seen it in my own country change 
a position of dangerous potentialities 



into one of everlasting friendship 
between victor and vanquished. That is 
the way we humans are built... 

Germany's equality of status has 
already been conceded in principle. 
This was done in December, 1932, 
when the Great Powers at the 
Disarmament Conference agreed to 
accord Germany "equality of rights in 
a regime of security". If this 
declaration had been followed up and 
acted on in the Conference itself 
Germany would today still be a 
member of the League, and not a 
disturbing factor outside it, and we 
should probably, have had an 
agreement on a far-reaching measure 
of disarmament. Now she is out of the 
League, her armament position is 
wrapped in obscurity and danger, and 
the opportunity for a general measure 
of disarmament seems farther off than 



ever. It is the story of the Sibylline 
books... 

So far I have confined my remarks to 
the European situation. Europe, like 
the poor, is always with us. But in the 
Far East a cloud is appearing which, 
although it is at present no greater than 
a man's hand, may come to 
overshadow the whole international 
sky in time. 

Already on its mere appearance it has 
severely shaken the League and led to 
menacing reactions in several 
directions. 

People instinctively realise that here is 
a phenomenon of first-class order, 
which may have the most far-reaching 
effects on the fortunes of peace, and 
indeed of our civilisation. Manchukuo 
is perhaps not yet the parting of the 
ways, but it is the warning that we are 



coming to the parting of the ways and 
may soon have to make a very solemn 
choice in national policy. 

I have always looked upon the 
Washington Treaties of 1922 as 
probably the greatest step forward yet 
taken since the peace on the road to a 
stable future world order. In 1921, at 
the Imperial Conference of that date, I 
stated my view that a great change was 
coming over world politics, and that 
the scene was shifting from the 
Atlantic to the Pacific. It was felt, and 
not by me only, that the future of the 
world would probably be decided, not 
in the Atlantic, but the Pacific Ocean 
and countries. The pot might continue 
to boil in Europe for perhaps another 
generation, but in the end it would 
simmer down... The storm centre will 
pass away from the countries of 
Christian civilisation and shift to the 



Far East. There the hand of destiny is 
still writing in its unknown script - in 
a language and in ideas which are 
scarcely intelligible to the Western 
mind. 

The achievement of the Washington 
Conference was just this - that in this 
new danger zone of the future a 
concert or collective system of the 
Powers concerned had been built up, a 
loose conference system, founded on 
certain vital issues, which might do for 
the Far East what the Geneva League 
was attempting to do in the West. 
Comparative naval power, the integri- 
ty of China, the open door in that 
immense potential market, were 
agreed in principle, and in case of any 
differences or danger arising the 
Conference would meet for discussion. 
Here was the most promising thing for 
world peace which had yet taken place 



since the Covenant. The question 
which is now being raised is whether 
the promise of Washington will be 
fulfilled and not prove to be a mere 
mirage. Manchukuo, as I said, pointed 
the danger signal. Now the treaty on 
naval ratios seems to be in danger; and 
if that goes the other issues settled at 
Washington may also be re-opened 
and the whole Pacific concert may 
collapse... 

Adversity makes strange 
bedfellows, and those who have in the 
past talked loudest of the Yellow Peril 
may in future be tempted to look for 
friends in that unlikely quarter... 

In the second place, I would appeal 
most earnestly and in the friendliest 
spirit to Japan as our old friend and 
war-time ally, to pause before she puts 
in motion machinery which will in the 
end imperil the concert in the Pacific. 



She has already given notice of 
withdrawal from the League. If, in 
addition, she withdraws from the 
Washington Treaties the whole 
collective system goes, so far as she is 
concerned... 

In the third place, everything possible 
in the power of diplomacy should be 
done to avoid even the appearance of 
antagonism between the East and 
West. The potentialities of the 
situation are inherently serious 
enough, and should not be rendered 
worse by one-sided diplomacy. Asia is 
at a curious phase of her awakening. 
Complexes there, too, are forming. 
The old exploitation or ascendancy 
policies are out of place in such a 
situation, and should be carefully 
avoided for the future. The past record 
of the West in the East is not one to be 
proud of or to be further copied... 



Fourthly, and subject to what I have 
just said, I wish to make another point 
which I consider no less important and 
vital. This is a difficult world, in 
which we have to walk warily, in 
which even good will may not be 
enough, and in which we are called 
upon to exercise a wise discretion as 
an insurance for the future. In this 
spirit I would say that to me the future 
policy and association of our great 
British Commonwealth lie more with 
the U.S.A. than with any other group 
in the world. If ever there comes a 
parting of the ways, if ever in the 
crises of the future we are called upon 
to make a choice, that, it seems to me, 
should be the company we should 
prefer to walk with and march with to 
the unknown future. On that path lie 
our past affiliations, our common 
moral outlook, our hopes and fears for 



the future of our common civilisation. 
Nobody can forecast the outcome of 
the stormy era of history on which we 
are now probably entering. Our best 
insurance in this unknown territory is 
to be with those with whom we have 
an instinctive and historic sympathy. 

The British Commonwealth has its 
feet in both worlds. Through Great 
Britain its one foot is firmly planted in 
this old continent. Through the 
Dominions it has its other foot as 
firmly planted in the outer newer 
world, where the U.S.A. already plays 
so great a part. The Dominions have 
even stronger affiliations towards the 
U.S.A. than Great Britain has. 

There is a community of outlook, of 
interests, and perhaps of ultimate 
destiny between the Dominions and 
the U.S.A. which in essence is only 
the first and most important of them. 



Through the Dominions British policy 
is ultimately tied up with the U.S.A. in 
a very profound sense, which goes 
much deeper than the occasional jars 
which, perhaps, are more acutely felt 
at any particular moment. That 
fundamental affinity, coming from the 
past, stretching to the future, is, or 
must be, the real foundation of all 
British foreign policy. Any policy 
which ignores it, or runs counter to it, 
is calculated to have a disruptive effect 
on the Commonwealth as a whole. We 
are here on bedrock, which we ignore 
at our peril. 

... More and more we are recognising 
that, in spite of racial and political 
barriers, humanity is really a whole. 

It is in this steadily-growing mutuality 
of our relations, in this ever increasing 
wholeness of our human relationships, 
that I see the only possible ultimate 



solution of our present discords. Here 
lies the true line of progress for the 
future. And the more we recognise this 
wholeness of mankind, this integral 
character of all our relationships, the 
surer our success will be in the great 
adventure of human government, and 
the brighter the prospects will be for 
that world of ordered liberty and peace 
which we are out to build. The driving 
force in this human world of ours 
should be, not morbid fears or other 
sickly obsessions, but this inner urge 
towards wholesome integration and 
cooperation. The drive towards 
holism, which I have elsewhere 
pointed to as at the basis of nature and 
the creative process in this universe, is 
equally operative in our human 
society. Unless it is artificially 
interfered with and thwarted, it will 
lead us forward to sanity, wholeness 



and wholesomeness and rid us of the 
pathological obsessions which are 
today producing so much friction and 
dislocation at every step of our 
adventure. 

... Ever since Versailles, where I 
entered my first protest, I have felt 
very deeply that the real peace was 
still to come, and that it would be a 
peace not merely of mechanical 
arrangements of the territorial or 
economic kind, but something 
psychological, something in the nature 
of European reconciliation, something 
reaching down to and resting on our 
common' human and Christian 
foundations. In that spirit I have once 
more pleaded for peace tonight. I hope 
that our statesmen will yet lead us to 
that peace before it is too late - that is 
to say, before new, sinister forces have 
advanced and taken possession of the 



field and imperilled what centuries of 
European effort have accomplished for 
our human advance. I feel the hour of 
action has come, or is rapidly coming, 
and we all pray that our leadership, for 
which we feel the profoundest 
sympathy, will not fail us in this crisis 
of our fate. 

A column writer on the Daily Sketch 
wrote: "I have seen many 
distinguished gatherings, but never 
such a mass meeting of distinction as 
there was at the dinner of the Royal 
Institute of International Affairs in 
honour of General Smuts. If all the 
O.Ms, K.CBs, LL.Ds and other 
alphabetical trimmings of the guests 
had been placed end to end they would 
have gone twice round the big 
banqueting room at the Savoy with a 
bit to spare..." 



The Manchester Guardian declared: 
"The dinner which the Royal Institute 
of International Affairs gave tonight to 
General Smuts was a remarkable 
gathering of talent and experience. 
Lord Derby, who fittingly presided 
over it as the greatest non-party 
politician in England, described it as 
'probably the most representative 
dinner at which any of us has ever 
been present'." The paper continues, 
"General Smuts, erect, neat, pink and 
white, speaking in a high voice with a 
touch of accent more Latin than 
Dutch, gave it a speech worthy of his 
powers. No politician in England for 
many a day has combined his sweep, 
his detachment, and his subtlety. What 
impressed one most was the way in 
which his mind cuts down to essentials 
and declares them without cir- 
cumlocution ... this clarity of mind 



enables him to grasp and state what he 
regards as the essentials of a situation 
in a way which one wishes that any 
member of our own Government could 
emulate." 

The Lancashire Post said that the 
speech "is expected to have an 
important influence upon the course of 
events in several parts of the world. 
History, present circumstances and 
intellectual distinction give the 
General an entirely unique position in 
the councils of the Empire, and his 
unrivalled clarity of utterance sends 
what he has to say echoing round the 
globe". 

The South Wales Argus wrote: "Once 
more General Smuts has revealed 
himself as a statesman with the 
international mind. He is one of the 
comparatively few great men in 
international politics, and he is great 



because his heart is right as well as his 
head. He is a philosopher and 
psychologist. He sees the working of 
men's souls behind their actions. He 
knows that we find the explanation of 
the follies and crimes of nations - as 
of individuals - in the hidden working 
of these instincts and impulses which 
are the make-up of human nature." 

The African World described the 
speech as the "crowning oration of his 
visit, and, profuse as it has been with 
brilliant speeches and accustomed as 
we have become to the pearls of 
wisdom falling from the lips of 
General Smuts, his address on 
Monday night, in world importance, 
transcended anything he has said 
during the crowded month of his stay 
among us, not even excepting his 
famous 'Freedom' exhortation at St. 
Andrews. It was a clarion call to the 



world at large, the Old and the New, 
the Nations and the great 
Commonwealth of the British 
Empire... The farewell banquet in his 
honour at the Savoy on Monday 
evening was one of the most notable 
tributes ever paid to any man in this 
country. What other public man, I 
wondered, looking round the crowded 
tables, could have attracted such a 
gathering. It was not the size of the 
audience but its character that was so 
impressive. 

The Times published the speech in 
pamphlet form at the request of the 
public. It ran into three editions. 

The Johannesburg Sunday Times 
remarked in an editorial: "There is 
probably no precise parallel in history 
for the remarkable enthusiasm aroused 
by General Smuts during his visit to 
Great Britain. So might Hannibal have 



been welcomed in Rome as a wise and 
friendly elder statesman of a 
Carthaginian dominion. It is no 
exaggeration, we think, to say that the 
speeches delivered by General Smuts 
during the six weeks of his visit 
overseas have placed a new 
complexion on the broader aspects of 
world affairs and inspired weary 
nations, over-wrought by distrust of 
each other, with fresh hope for the 
future. 



62 : Uneasy Peace 

In May, 1936, the following little 
incident occurred in the House. It was 
a sequel to a hunting expedition 
undertaken by my brother, myself and 
party into Portuguese East Africa in 
1933. On our way back into the Union 
it was found that we had unwittingly 
contravened a new foot-and-mouth 
disease regulation promulgated in our 
absence, and we found ourselves in 
trouble with the police. Now in 1936 
there was an investigation, going on 
into alleged irregularities in the Police 
Force, and a Dominion Party member, 
Mr. Marwick, brought this case up as 
one of irregularity and claimed that we 
had run clear of trouble only because 
we were the Minister of Justice's sons. 
An altercation ensued between Mr. 
Marwick and Mr. Blackwell which 
grew so heated that the former was 



expelled from the Chamber, Colonel 
Stallard following him as he walked 
out. 

My poor father was unaware of what 
had occurred in 1933, as we had kept 
it a dead secret from the family. Much 
taken aback at this new situation, he 
nevertheless rose to the occasion and 
passed it off with one of his classic 
evasions: "The Committee will forgive 
me," he said, "for saying that I am 
very proud of my boys." (Cheers.) 

Mr. Derbyshire: "Wouldn't you spank 
them for it? ... How old are these 
boys?" My father: "They are quite big 
now. I would not advise my hon. 
friend to try to spank them." 
(Laughter.) 

And with little more ado, Parliament 
proceeded with its business. 



In March, 1937, my father was 
installed as Chancellor of the 
University of Cape Town. It was a 
distinction that appealed to him 
greatly. He took the opportunity of 
giving the students a pleasant fatherly 
talk on education: 

... The bookworm is generally a 
narrow type, moving in one groove or 
another, and never reaching the broad 
daylight and the wide vision which 
goes with universality. Not seldom the 
scientific or scholastic expert is 
singularly devoid of that breadth of 
outlook and perspective, that sense of 
proportion which is essential to true 
culture. Just as you may be rich in 
earthly possession and yet remain poor 
in spirit, so you may amass much 
learning with much weariness without 
acquiring real poise or intellectual 
balance, and spiritual sensitiveness... 



... In other directions again you learn 
of the vast commotion in the great 
world, of the political, economic and 
social experiments today being tried 
out in many countries on a scale such 
as has never been attempted before in 
history. You learn at close range of the 
moral and intellectual unrest which is 
sapping the basis of the old order and 
heralding the advent of the coming 
age. You become alive to that 
atmosphere of hope and fear, of faith 
and defeatism, which accompanies the 
great transition and which shows itself 
in such development as economic and 
political nationalism, general 

rearmament and warlike preparations, 
alongside of brave and by no means 
forlorn attempts to organise human co- 
operation and security on a, world- 
wide basis. In short, you are flung into 
a world of intellectual and social and 



moral ferment which carries you far, 
very far from the simple home 
environment. In all this upheaval in 
the contemporary world and in your 
own experience you have to remain 
yourself and true to yourself, you have 
to preserve your personal integrity, 
and you have to adjust yourself to all 
this strange new world without 
damage to your real self. In other 
words, you have to remain loyal to 
your individuality and at the same 
time to adjust yourself to universality. 
Starting from the simple pieties of the 
home, you have to assimilate what is 
best in this larger thought and life of 
the contemporary world, and of our 
human record throughout the ages. 
Here you can in a very real sense get 
the key, the clue to guide you through 
all this confusing inrush of 
experiences which threaten to 



overwhelm you. Academic training, 
academic life can disclose to you 
certain dominant landmarks by which 
you can steer your course. Let me 
mention a couple of them. 

Here you will begin to see this world, 
not as matter of chance, a chaos, a 
mere jumble of different jarring 
warring things flung together at 
haphazard, but as a unity, as a whole 
pervaded by law and order, in which 
our human life links up with and 
crowns life universal and forms the 
climax of activities which pervade all 
things. This vision of harmony in the 
universe, of principles of order and 
beauty which are its very nature and 
constitution - this vision of truth and 
beauty once seen - will ever remain 
with you as the most satisfying and 
abiding experience of your life. It will 
give you peace in a world of unrest. 



Your soul will feed on that vision of 
order and beauty in the world, and it 
will continue to grow on you till the 
end of your days. Science, philosophy, 
poetry, religion - all will help you to 
clarify and deepen that great 
experience for you. 

Then again you will learn one of the 
hardest and most valuable lessons of 
life - to appreciate and be loyal at all 
costs to fact, objective impartial fact. 
We begin life in a childish atmosphere 
of sentiment and prejudices, and 
thence as we grow older we move on 
to a world of opinions and passions. 
But really to know the world is to get 
down to a true sense of fact, which 
remains true in spite of all our 
opinions and partialities and attitudes. 
This lesson of the true value of fact is 
perhaps the greatest lesson that science 
can teach us... 



He warned the students against the 
slavish acceptance of catchwords and 
cliches: 

... Amid the evils of our public world 
of today, where the tendency is to 
follow slogans, to run after 
catchwords, to worship ideologies, or 
to exalt party politics unduly, the 
sovereign remedy is this disinterested 
loyalty to fact, this gospel of the 
sacredness of facts which is the 
supreme message of science to the 
world. This is a world of fact. It is 
based on facts and not on opinions, 
propaganda or ideologies, which are 
but the froth on the surface of the 
deeper movement of facts... 

After that be passed on to Fascism: 

Whatever may be the ultimate 
outcome of the rival Fascist and 
Communist systems now contending 



for mastery in Europe, I would ask 
you to believe that their hostility to the 
principle of toleration, of racial, 
religious and political toleration, must 
surely be a passing phase, a symptom 
of the confusion and unrest of the 
times. The human spirit having once 
broken its primeval shackles and 
emerged from its bondage will never 
again submit to them for good. Evolu- 
tion never reverts back to discarded 
forms or organs. And the light that has 
dawned on our human horizon can 
never permanentiy set again. To 
believe the contrary would be to 
despair of human nature and to 
blaspheme our Maker. There may be 
temporary eclipse, but never again can 
there be a return, for good to the dark 
age for the human spirit. Time has one 
direction and never moves back... 



His association in this capacity with 
the University was a very happy one 
till his death. This, and his connection 
with the Mountain Club, were 
probably amongst his happiest 
memories of the Cape. 



63 : Dark Clouds 



My father was under no illusion about 
the approach of war. He had seen the 
same signs before. Here were the signs 
of intolerance and aggressiveness that 
marked the fever of war in a nation. 
Hitler was steadily growing hysterical, 
ranting and raving and threatening in a 
way that left no doubt that he was 
going to act. His beer-hall friends of 
Munich held high positions and there 
was no doubt that he would receive the 
fullest support in all he did. The 
German Fuehrer believed he was a 
man of destiny with a mission to 
perform for his people. This, he 
gradually came to believe, was to 
enslave other peoples and to Naif all 
Europe. Since 1933 the munitions 
production machine had been set in 
full-scale motion. Goring was toying 
with the idea of a vast air armada, and 



admirals were dreaming of a revived 
German navy with myriads of U- 
boats. Among the army chiefs, ideas 
of a new tactical concept, the swift, 
crushing blitzkrieg, were crystallising 
out. 

Opposition within the Reich was not 
only discouraged but ruthlessly 
stamped out by a Gestapo system later 
brought to perfection by Heinrich 
Hammer. Bloody purges took place of 
all people thought to be a danger to the 
Nazi regime. These putsches took in 
all the senior men of the country 
without fear or favour. Slowly the 
streets of the towns and villages were 
beginning to echo to the hobnailed 
boot and the goosestep, and the 
handshake and salute had long since 
changed to the Nazi heil! 

Ribbe trop, suave ambassador and 
one-time village wine merchant, tried 



to soothe Britain with honeyed words. 
The British Government, longing for 
an excuse to avoid rearmament, 
reluctantly swallowed his sweetened 
pills. In vain did Winston Churchill 
warn of the coming dangers. People 
were either too disinterested or too 
afraid to face up to realities. Geneva 
preached disarmament and Stanley 
Baldwin and others were only too 
ready to listen. If Hitler and Mussolini 
were foolish enough to squander 
money on armaments that was their 
business. Britain would not indulge in 
this madness. 

But my father was not a man of such 
easy persuasion. From his distant 
vantage-point he saw that those dark 
clouds approaching were no mere 
wisps of mist. All the signs of the 
approaching storm were manifest. 
Long ago, when von Lettow Vorbeck, 



the man whom he hoped would save 
Germany, played his cards badly, he 
had had misgivings about the future of 
Germany. Von Lettow was young, 
strong and able, but Hindenburg was 
an old and tired figurehead under 
whom things might slide dangerously. 
Adolf Hitier saw the weakness of the 
situation, and his great opportunity, 
and lost no time in putting his 
ambitions into effect. Hindenburg was 
no match for him. 

My father recognised that his ranting 
and raving about the former German 
colonies were blinds to cover much 
deeper motives. The return of South- 
West Africa, Tanganyika and the 
Cameroons would not appease an 
insatiable Germany. 

At the same time Mussolini set about 
arms production, turning out weapons 
of poor quality and obsolete pattern, a 



navy of ships possessing speed rather 
than fighting power, and millions of 
soldiers of poor quality and morale, 
who should have remained peasants. 

In the Chambers at Geneva there was 
vacillation and disagreement. Litvinov 
the Russian representative did not 
agree with Samuel Hoare the British 
representative, and nobody was pre- 
pared to do anything but talk through 
all these troublous times. This 
precious international machine, which 
my father had done so much to set up, 
was being turned into a mere talking 
shop. 

An informal but fairly effective call-up 
in Germany began under von Papen in 
1932. Three years later conscription 
was started. Hitler completed the call- 
up by drafting the 1938 conscripts a 
year early. The preparation was 



complete, and Germany was ready for 
war. 

In March, 1936, the German 
remilitarisation of the Rhineland took 
place, not only destroying a safeguard 
of French Security, but bringing the 
great munition centres in Cologne, 
Dusseldorf, Mannheim and Lud- 
wigshafen under German control and 
rendering the Ruhr industries barely 
defensible. 

Exactly two years later came the 
annexation of Austria. Hitler had 
planned it in 1934, when he had 
Caused the Chancellor Dollfuss to be 
murdered, but it is said Mussolini had 
restrained him. With Austria, Hitler 
acquired seven million more German 
subjects. Schuschnigg was hurried 
away into captivity and the position of 
Czechoslovakia became more vulner- 
able than ever. But the Czechs were 



protected by a treaty with Britain and 
France which, if defied, would mean 
war. Hitler advanced a claim for self- 
determination by the Sudetenland 
German minority. Britain had not 
started the mass production of the 
munitions of war till 1937 and was in 
no position to stand up to him. In 
September, 1938, Britain and France 
concluded at Munich one of the great 
capitulations of history. Militarily the 
Allies only gain by this had been time. 
In every other respect the armaments 
gap had been widened. Six months 
later the whole of Czechoslovakia had 
become Hitler's. He was now ready 
for full-scale war. Germany had for 
long been working a sixty-hour week, 
but Britain was still plodding along 
quietly on a forty-hour cycle. 

Poland's alliance with Britain and 
France stood her in poor stead. It 



failed to stay the Nazi war machine; at 
dawn on the 1st September, 1939, 
German troops streamed across the 
Polish frontiers at many points. 

The Second World War had begun. 

Meanwhile Nazism was gradually 
growing in South Africa. Agents were 
widespread and they were indulging in 
fairly open propaganda methods. They 
were enabled to do this not only 
because a portion of the populace 
sympathised with them, but because, 
in the very Cabinet itself, there were 
those who were tolerant of the germ. 
Our Trade Treaty with Germany also 
brought about many points of 
unavoidable contact. There were many 
German tourists in the country about 
whose activities we were suspicious. 

The Press and the more sober public 
were crying out against these agents. 



My father preferred to watch and to 
keep silent. Suggestions from him 
would only cause serious dissension 
and make the situation worse. 
Weichardt had founded his Greyshirt 
Movement and active training on a 
quasi-military scale was going on. 
Soon too a Fascist Blackshirt 
Movement sprang up and gained 
considerable support. 

Up to now people had been over- 
tolerant of these activities in their 
midst. But with the advent of the Italo- 
Abyssinian War, they realised that the 
rest of Africa might not be free of the 
dictators' ambitions. Under pressure 
from my father, Hertzog consented to 
the application of sanctions against 
Italy. But on the whole the 
democracies were unimpressive when 
it came to applying pressure on 
Mussolini. Small wonder the dictators 



considered life in these countries to be 
at a low ebb. By contrast the Fascist 
doctrines seemed the very epitome of 
vigour and progress. 

Times were still prosperous, but there 
were signs that the enthusiasm for 
Fusion was waning and that an 
element of strain had crept in. True, 
the most discontented had followed 
Colonel Stallard into a new party, but 
there were many others who felt 
almost as strongly but stayed behind. 
They remained on with uneasy 
feelings, daily growing more 
convinced that Afrikanderism was 
rapidly swallowing up the British 
traditions. 

In the Cabinet there was disloyalty and 
a perceptible lack of harmony. On 
many fundamental problems the two 
sections agreed to differ. But my 



father's genius and influence managed 
to preserve a perilous peace. 

In May, 1938, came a general election. 
Fear of events that were taking place 
in the outside world did much to lend 
an advantage to the United Party, and 
the election was a triumph for my 
father. He certainly had worked as 
hard as any man for it. During the last 
two months he had covered, in spare 
moments, 2,000 miles by rail, 6,500 
by car and 1,000 by air, on 
electioneering business, making 
numerous speeches each day. 

Of the 117 seats the United Party 
retained 111. Their loss had been a 
Malanite gain. But, significantly, an 
interesting feature of the United Party 
vote was the fact that it revealed a 
distinct swing in favour of my father's 
group. 



By this time criticism of Germany in 
the daily press had become a feature, 
much to the annoyance of General 
Hertzog and friends. So now Hertzog 
began sending off cables of apology to 
the Fuehrer, and drafted legislation to 
curb the press. It might have been not 
without humour had it occurred in less 
strained times. 

On Union Day, less than a fortnight 
alter the elections, an unhappy incident 
occurred which did much to annoy the 
English section. Indignation ran high 
because of the omission of playing 
"The King" at military parades 
throughout the country. Only the 
Afrikaans "Die Stem" had been 
played. Rumour had it that both the 
Prime Minister and Minister of 
Defence Pirow were implicated. It was 
one of those unhappy storms that blew 
up so frequently during those days. 



Barely had this crisis subsided when 
fresh trouble arose over the seat of a 
Native Representative in the Senate, to 
which Hertzog, without prior 
consultation, had appointed a friend, 
A.P.J. Fourie, who was not 
particularly suited to the post. This 
time feeling was so outraged that two 
of my father's adherents in the Cabinet 
felt constrained to resign. 

One was Mr. J.H. Hofmeyr, who 
tendered his resignation on grounds of 
principle and conscience. While this 
may have been a dramatic and 
spectacular act, it had little else to 
commend it, and it did nothing to ease 
my father's difficult position im the 
Cabinet. My father, I remember, was 
very critical of Hofmeyr's defection 
on the occasion. He remarked to me: 
"It's all very well Hofmeyr talking 
about principles and conscience and 



resigning. How does he think I feel 
about the whole business myself? 
Where would we be if we all lost our 
heads and resigned? It's the very thing 
the Nationalists want." Many hailed 
Hofmeyr as a hero and looked askance 
at my father as a person who had been 
prepared to sell his birthright. Little 
did they realise how grimly my father 
was holding on and preparing for the 
dark day he now saw approaching with 
such speed. Devoted as he grew to 
Hofmeyr during the war years, and 
mindful of the superb work he was 
performing, I don't think the younger 
man ever quite regained my father's 
former esteem. 

Again my father had to soothe and 
placate. 

In 1938 came the Czechoslovakian 
debacle, which brought with it, once 
more, the question of neutrality. On 



this occasion, but only as a specific 
instance, my father agreed that events 
at that time did not warrant the risk of 
full-scale military intervention. 

Shortly before Hitler's birthday in 
April, 1939, my father, without the 
concurrence of the Cabinet, as 
Minister of justice sent a force of 300 
policemen to South-West Africa. It 
was one of his characteristic, old-time, 
lightning strokes. Intelligence had 
revealed that one of the now standard 
German "coups" would shortly be 
attempted in the mandated territory by 
trained German elements, and he was 
determined to forestall events. 
"Austria and other small states," he 
declared, "have been invaded on the 
plea that they could not keep internal 
order, but the Union will never lay 
itself open to invasion on that ground." 



Members of the Cabinet with pro-Nazi 
feelings, who had been outwitted by 
my father, fumed in silence. But the 
rest of the Opposition gave vent in full 
to its outraged feelings. It was nothing 
short, they claimed, of an act that 
might provoke an enemy. And it was 
perpetrated by the same person who in 
1914 had led the Union into war with 
Germany. Dr. Malan said it reminded 
him of the Nakob incident of 1914. 
But for all their feelings, it was 
subsequently proved that the despatch 
of the Force had been amply justified 
in avoiding serious trouble. 

Now followed Italy's invasion of 
Abyssinia and the intensification of 
Germany's propaganda war against 
Poland. The question of, neutrality, 
which had previously been looked 
upon purely as an academic issue, 
briskly assumed a more practical 



guise. But Hertzog and his followers 
were still of opinion that neutrality 
was a practicability in time of war. 

My father bided his time. Words were 
of little avail in times like this. 

The British element in Parliament 
insisted that neutrality in time of war 
was an impossibility. The Malanites 
were loud in their denunciation of 
those who said they would fight by the 
side of Great Britain. Was not England 
the only country that had ever attacked 
South Africa? 

Matters were now swiftly moving to a 
climax. On 1st September Hitler's 
armies streamed into Poland. Two 
days later France and Britain were at 
war with Germany. 

In the middle of July, 1939, my father 
accompanied Sir Ernest Oppenheimer 
on a flying trip to the Copper Belt in 



Northern Rhodesia and to the jewelled 
wonderland of the Western Rift Valley 
of the Belgian Congo. Here in a fertile 
land of breathtaking scenic grandeur 
he spent a few very pleasant days 
surveying the superb cluster of giant 
volcanoes that rose thousands of feet 
from the Rift Floor. Nyamlagira was at 
the time in action, pouring forth a 
three-mile wide stream of molten lava 
from its 10,000 foot-high summit into 
idyllic Lake Kivu, causing a great 
cloud of steam to rise into the sky. 
They flew over the top of this "boiling 
cauldron" and "the whole spectacle 
was awe-inspiring - indeed 
inexplicably so", he said. 

The other giants, including Ninagongo 
and Karisimbi (with the grave of the 
United States explorer Carl Akeley on 
its slopes) were dormant, but at any 
moment might burst forth again. In the 



dense mountain forests dwelt the 
minute pigmy and the gorilla, while in 
the plains below lived the tall nilotic 
Watussi farmer, noted for his feats of 
high jumping. 

To a friend my father wrote after this 
inspiring flight over the volcanoes: 
"For me it has been the day of the trip. 
I can never have a greater experience 
than a real volcano in full action and 
now can feel calm at the spectacle of 
Dictator volcanoes spouting forth on 
the European stage. How ridiculous 
our human antics are in comparison 
with the real business of nature! ... I 
closed the day with a fine swim in the 
lake (Kivu) in front of our hotel." 



64 : The Storm Breaks 

Neutrality was no longer an 
academic question. It became, 
immediately, a burning issue. 

Hertzog and his henchmen were 
determined at all costs, to remain 
neutral. Having secretly conducted a 
poll of adherents in the House, they 
were convinced of a majority vote on 
the issue. In a flash General Hertzog 
had reverted in type to the old pattern. 
His movements and motives were all 
hidden under a cloak of secrecy, and 
not an inkling of what was happening 
was allowed to reach my father. 

My father, in turn, was equally 
determined that South Africa should 
lose no time in severing relations with 
Germany. Hertzog had had a good 
start and there was much leeway to 
make up. 



Parliament was luckily in session at 
the time, having been prorogued to 
extend the term of the Senate which 
had run to a close. The House met in a 
tense atmosphere on September 4 to 
debate our role in the conflict. 
Numerically there was little between 
those for and those against, and the 
matter hung critically in the balance. It 
was at this stage that the long years of 
tolerance and patience exercised by 
my father in the Fusion Government 
bore fruit. His behaviour had been so 
exemplary that it had won him many 
friends on the other side. This good 
will now came to his aid, and was, he 
always claimed, the factor that carried 
the day for him. General Hertzog said 
to his "regret there appeared to be a 
serious difference" in the Cabinet, an 
"unbridgeable division ... 



It must not be forgotten that we are 
concerned here in a war in which the 
Union has not the slightest interest. 
We are not interested in the war 
between Poland and Germany... 
England has certain obligations 
towards Poland. We have no such 
obligations ... it is urged we should 
take part in the war because the 
German Chancellor has demonstrated 
that he is out to obtain world dom- 
ination... Where can we find proof?" 
He went on to justify the German 
seizure of the Rhineland, Austria, 
Czechoslovakia and Danzig and spoke 
of the "monster of the Treaty of 
Versailles". And finally he moved 
"that this House approves and accepts 
as the policy of the Government of the 
Union that the existing relations 
between the Union of South Africa 
and the various belligerent countries 



will, in so far as the Union is 
concerned, persist unchanged and 
continue as if no war is being 
waged..." 

My father rose to reply: "I think it 
would be right and fair and proper," he 
said quietiy, in a hushed but tense 
House, "on an occasion like this, when 
issues are raised which go to the very 
foundations of our national life, that I 
should make clear the exact points 
where I, and some of my colleagues, 
differ from the policy which the Prime 
Minister has sketched to the House. I 
shall move an amendment in due 
course, but before I do so I should like 
to say, Sir, that I hope the House will 
look upon this extraordinary situation 
which has arisen as being of the most 
serious character. I am not going to 
make reproaches; I am not going to 
introduce debating points. I wish this 



House and the people of this country 
to realise as clearly as I see it what 
really is the position and what is at 
stake... 

"I have never in all these years of our 
political collaboration made a serious 
point of differences on small issues. I 
have always been prepared to give 
way, to hold the peace, and to see that 
the young life of this nation is given a 
chance, and for the people to have an 
opportunity to grow together." He 
spoke of the "gravest tangles possible" 
in regard to the Prime Minister's 
policy of "modified" neutrality, which 
Germany certainly will not recognise. 
Of Germany's demands after Danzig 
he had no doubt that South-West 
Africa and the German colonies would 
come next. "To me it is quite clear", 
he said, "that we are not dealing with a 
far-away problem in Eastern Europe. 



We are, dealing with a nation whose 
policy not only today, but tomorrow 
may touch us most vitally in this 
country." 

He therefore moved "that this House 
declares that the Public of the Union in 
this crisis shall be based on the 
following principles and 

considerations, viz.: 

"(1) it is in the interests of the Union 
that its relations with the 
German Reich should be severed 
and that the Union should refuse 
to adopt an attitude of neutrality 
in this conflict. 

"(2) The Union should carry out the 
obligations to which it has 
agreed, and continue its co- 
operation with its friends and 
associates in the British 
Commonwealth of Nations..." 



When the motion was put to the Vote 
my father's amendment was carried by 
a majority of 80 votes to 67. 

Hertzog tendered his resignation to the 
Governor-General. Sir Patrick Duncan 
was in a quandary as to what to do 
next, but after discussing the matter 
privately with my father, called upon 
him to form a new Government. We 
were all at our radios that evening 
tensely awaiting the news. I was living 
in a northern suburb of Johannesburg 
at the time. When the good news came 
over, muffled shouting and cheering 
could be heard all over the 
neighbourhood. 

Our honour had been saved. And once 
more we had a great helmsman at our 
head. Now in his seventieth year, my 
father, still in the prime of life and 
wonderfully fit and alert, was in a 



position to tackle the future with the 
greatest vigour and enthusiasm. 



The War, in one cruel stroke, sent all 
the work of conciliation of my father, 
all his unselfish efforts for Coalition 
and Fusion, which had held out such 
glorious prospects for the future of the 
nation, tumbling down. For the 
question of the Union's participation 
in a war was no easier now than it had 
been in 1914. Perhaps those against 
our entry into the fray were not so 
numerous as they had been in former 
times, but they were, nevertheless, 
very considerable. The Government 
itself, as will be seen, was split from 
top to bottom on the issue. 

Let my father himself describe what 
happened in those confused days. Let 
him tell us, too, how difficult some of 



the days of Fusion had been. Let him 
explain this, as he did at a Party 
meeting in Bloemfontein on 3rd 
November, 1939. By that time, 
General Hertzog had resigned and my 
father had formed a new Cabinet. 

Night by night [he said] this country is 
being attacked and bombarded with 
propaganda from Germany, in a way 
far more dangerous, subtle and insi- 
dious than any attack by armies. Night 
by night the soul of the people of 
South Africa is being sapped and their 
convictions undermined by that broad- 
cast from Zeesen. There are other 
broadcasters going about this country 
from platform to platform and they are 
even more dangerous than the 
announcer from Zeesen. No, we were 
at the crossroads, but we took the right 
turning. In the years to come, when the 
situation has cleared up, the people of 



South Africa will be grateful to the 
Parliament of this year for deciding to 
sever relations with Germany and keep 
this country moving along the same 
lines as those upon which we have 
been progressing so well in recent 
years. 

Now I return to the address which 
General Hertzog gave here within the 
last few days, and I shall reply to the 
accusations he made. Speaking of the 
happenings which led to Parliament's 
decision on the 4th of September, 
when, General Hertzog says, "Smuts 
lay in wait for a good chance to 
break," it is not necessary for me to 
deny that accusation, for the whole 
history of what actually happened 
denies it. I must say that I was more 
than surprised when I read this, but if 
there was this suspicion, if this was in 
the heart of General Hertzog, did he 



really trust me in those six years we 
worked together? 

I am human. I must admit it was a 
shock to realise this after all the trust I 
had placed in him from year to year, 
after the support I gave him, after the 
blood and sweat I gave to see the 
United Party through its difficulty. I 
do not boast when I say that the 
United Party was, in a great measure, 
my work - my best work for South 
Africa, my pride and honour. It was 
the ideal for which I sacrificed 
everything, for which I sacrificed my 
personal interests. After I had done all 
that, why should I break down my 
own work? Am I fitted for a lunatic 
asylum? Again I ask you, why should 
I look for an opportunity and lie in 
wait to jump out? It never occurred to 
me. I did everything I could to ensure 
long life to the Party. There was only 



one wish I had for my old age - to see 
that the party should remain as strong 
as a rock for South Africa, and after I 
had disappeared the generation who 
would follow would have an 
impregnable foundation on which to 
build. I prayed God to prevent a break. 

General Hertzog talks about small 
incidents such as flags, anthems and 
oaths. Everything I did was designed 
to keep the United Party together. I 
smoothed those incidents over. 
General Hertzog said I objected to the 
singing of "Die Stem". That is false. 
His memory must have failed him, for 
if he remembers correctly he will 
acknowledge that I gave him whole- 
hearted support in his suggestion to 
have "Die Stem" and "God Save the 
King" played at the opening of 
Parliament. 



But the question before us at the 
beginning of September was not one 
of flags or anthems. It was a question 
which went to the very roots of our 
national life. It was the question of the 
road South Africa should follow in 
future. I saw we had now reached a 
point where I would have to give away 
everything which I regarded as right 
for the people of South Africa when 
General Hertzog came to us with a 
ready-made plan of neutrality. We had 
reached down to bed-rock. 

General Hertzog had consulted his 
friends and decided to stay neutral on 
certain lines. He did more. Before he 
spoke a word to me or one of my 
colleagues to find out what we 
thought, he had an assurance that the 
Nationalist Party would support him in 
a policy of neutrality. Here are the 
facts: General Hertzog spoke to me 



about this for the first time on 
Saturday, the 2nd of September. I met 
him in his Chambers with Mr. 
Havenga and Mr. Pirow. Their policy 
of neutrality was laid before me and I 
immediately said: "Impossible". I told 
them that I found it impossible to 
subscribe to it. We argued about it for 
the rest of the morning, and I tried to 
show them why I thought it was an 
impossible policy for South Africa. 
When we could not arrive at an 
agreement I asked General Hertzog, in 
view of the seriousness of the 
situation, to call the Cabinet together. 
And so the Cabinet was summoned 
and the matter laid before them. For 
the whole of that afternoon and again 
that night we discussed the matter. 
And all this time General Hertzog had 
in his possession the assurance of the 
"Purifieds" that they would support 



him. General Hertzog did not tell me 
or a single one of my colleagues 
anything about the fact that he would 
rely on the support of the "Purifieds" 
in his policy of neutrality. 

On Saturday night we agreed to meet 
again. Parliament had been summoned 
for Monday morning and there was 
not much time left. Before the Cabinet 
meeting on Sunday afternoon, General 
Hertzog again had the assurance - this 
time in black and white - that the 
"Purifieds" would support him. Even 
at that final meeting he told us nothing 
about that promise from Dr. Malan 
and his party. I myself heard about it a 
week later, and for me it was a great 
shock... 

We asked General Hertzog on the 
Sunday afternoon why he was in such 
a hurry and advised him that it would 
be better to call together the Caucus of 



the Party. But this was also abruptly 
refused. It was refused because 
General Hertzog was assured of his 
majority in Parliament, because he had 
the letter from the Nationalists in his 
pocket. The accusation I make against 
General Hertzog is that he did not tell 
his colleagues about this letter and that 
at this critical moment he went over 
the heads of his own Party members. It 
is being said that General Smuts and 
his friends set a trap. If there was a 
trap, I ask you, Who set it?" No, my 
conscience is clear. There was no 
intrigue on our side. But General 
Hertzog had the promise of support 
from the "Purifieds" in his pocket. 

I expected something quite different. I 
thought when I saw which way things 
were going, that General Hertzog 
wanted to get rid of some of his 
Cabinet colleagues; that he would then 



reform his Cabinet - a thing which he 
was quite entitled to do - and then go 
to the country. He would have had a 
new Government and he would have 
consulted the people. But instead of 
that he went to Parliament because he 
was assured of a majority. They had 
counted. But they counted wrongly. 
General Hertzog told me and other 
responsible persons that he was 
assured of a majority. But then came 
the Monday, the debate in Parliament, 
and the defence of Hitler, and then 
came the thunderbolt that smashed 
General Hertzog' s secret plans. 

I want to make it clear to the people of 
South Africa that our hands were clean 
throughout the entire occurrence. 
General Hertzog and his advisers 
made mistake upon mistake. I told you 
what he could have done, but then I 
am only a dull fellow. General 



Hertzog leaned on certain "slim" 
people in the Cabinet who advised 
him. There was even an attempt to 
drag in the Governor-General. But 
everything went wrong. All these 
miscalculations came to nothing, and 
the worst of all is that General Hertzog 
has given over his faithful followers 
into the hands of the Malanites, in the 
same way that he is now giving 
himself over to Dr. Malan... 

... I am sorry that I have to talk like 
this of General Hertzog. I respect him, 
even though I ask for nothing in 
return. General Hertzog has rendered 
great service to this country. It grieves 
me to see that in his old age he is busy 
destroying the great work which he 
did in the past six years, and I deeply 
regret that he has become a tool in the 
hands of Dr. Malan. I do not accuse 
him. He was misled by colleagues 



about him, and especially by one who 
gives out to be a hundred per cent 
Afrikaner. But upon this man the 
people of South Africa look with the 
deepest suspicion. This counsellor of 
General Hertzog was General 
Hertzog's downfall, and today he is 
busy seeking favour with Dr. Malan... 

... The charge against me, according to 
General Hertzog, is this: That a year 
ago (in September, 1938) when the 
Sudetenland trouble was afoot, we 
discussed the matter in the Cabinet 
and we decided that in this particular 
matter, the Sudetenland problem, we 
were certainly not going to take part in 
any resulting war, but that we were 
going to remain neutral. You will 
recall what the Sudetenland question 
was about. It affected a certain small 
section of the German population on 
the fringe of Czechoslovakia, who 



were dissatisfied and complained of 
being ill-treated. The peace of Europe 
seemed to be endangered on this 
account, and nobody wanted to have 
Europe plunged into a war because of 
the demands of the Germans there. We 
certainly had no interest in the matter. 
We had no good reason at the time to 
suspect Hitler of his evil intentions. He 
alleged that he was trying to right the 
wrongs of his people and save the 
German minority in Czechoslovakia. 
Mr. Chamberlain and the French and 
British Governments conceded that 
Hitler had a case, and they did not 
want war. 

At that time and in those 
circumstances we said that if war 
should come in Europe over this 
dispute, South Africa would be 
neutral. I agreed that this was the right 
course to take, but I must emphasise 



that our decision was confined to a 
particular case. It had nothing to do 
with any other problem that might 
arise. We never defined or formulated 
a policy of neutrality for the future..." 



65 : Building An Army 



Mr. Oswald Pirow had been Minister 
of Defence in the Fusion Government 
for six years. He was a young and 
active man, believed by many to be 
capable. His defence plans were on a 
grand Pan-African scale and he 
propounded them with eloquence. 
Foremost among his supporters was a 
considerable proportion of the 
English-speaking public, now, as ever, 
susceptible to the honeyed words of 
plausible speakers. Pirow, in his able 
way, took in all these good people. 
With his £3,000,000 Defence Vote in 
1939 he was going to build up a great 
army, specially adapted for African 
bush warfare. Yet, when my father 
took over the portfolio a year later, 
almost the whole Vote was still intact. 
Pirow' s army was merely in the 
realms of dreams. The best reflection 



on his efforts would be to remark that 
when Hitler heard that the Union had 
declared war, he laughed. 

It would be unfair to attribute Pirow' s 
failure as Minister of Defence to 
ineptitude. He was too able a man for 
that. It was just that he was even more 
determined than General Hertzog that 
South Africa should not go to war. But 
at the same time, too, it was patent that 
as a strategist he completely failed to 
grasp the situation, for he believed in 
an out-moded bushcart conception of 
guerrilla warfare. It was based on a 
thin line of half-trained troops, moving 
light through the bush and living on 
the country as far as possible. And all 
this after he had been to Europe and 
seen the massive units of the German 
and Italian armies. Perhaps it would be 
fairest to say that his term as Minister 
was notable chiefly for his indiscreet 



pre-war visits to the Dictators, by 
whom he had been much impressed. 

Apart from our semi-military Boer 
commandos there was little in the 
country. The weapons were mostly the 
now obsolete ones brought back by 
my father after the First World War. 
The nearest we had to front-line 
aircraft were two Blenheim bombers. 
The rest of the Air Force consisted of 
twenty-six long-obsolete Hawker 
Furies and Harts and a few converted 
Junker airliners, and a few dozen 
trainers. In the tank line were two old 
demonstration models of Flanders 
vintage. Our two armoured cars dated 
back to the same period and had last 
been used to quell a native rebellion 
many years ago. Our artillery had seen 
honourable service against Kaiser 
Wilhelm. 



Our Permanent Force consisted of 
only 1,350 men. Beyond the personal 
equipment of these men there were no 
uniforms and few rifles. Two of our 
four chief ports, East London and Port 
Elizabeth, had not one single gun for 
their defence. 

Our navy was the engineless training 
ship the General Botha, moored 
permanently at Simonstown. 

At the start there was a distinct danger 
of risings in the Nationalist-dominated 
rural areas. But thanks to an inventory 
of firearms compiled by the previous 
Government, my father was able to 
forestall trouble by calling in all 
privately-owned rifles, a measure 
which also helped considerably in our 
training requirements. 

My father set about his new tasks as 
Prime Minister, Minister of Defence 



and Minister of External Affairs with a 
vigour quite in keeping with any 
previous effort. From top to bottom he 
had to overhaul the country, and to 
build up organisations from scratch. 
He was concerned not only with the 
recruitment, equipping and training of 
his army, but also with initiating a 
commensurate industrial effort. And at 
the same time he was actively engaged 
in dealing with internal security 
measures necessitated by such 
subversive organisations as the 
Ossewa Brandwag and the 
Broederbond. Investigations into these 
organisations were comprehensive and 
went on throughout the war. Many 
senior Government servants were 
implicated, as well as numerous 
Members of Parliament, some of 
whom now hold the highest positions. 



There was no department that did not 
harbour some of these Broeders. The 
country was completely honeycombed. 
Against some it was possible to take 
action, but the majority managed to 
shelter smugly behind the Law. 

It was in this background of confusion, 
unpreparedness, opposition and 
subversiveness that my father's efforts 
of the war years have to be judged. 
Yet despite all these troubles our 
national effort progressed with ever- 
increasing momentum. By 1942 there 
were 150,000 European men in full- 
time units, and before the end of the 
war this figure had passed the 200,000 
mark, of whom, strangely perhaps, 
two-thirds were of Afrikaans 
parentage. If one bears in mind that 
South Africa's total European male 
population, between the ages of twenty 
and sixty, was only 570,000, and that 



all men in our forces were volunteers, 
the extent of the effort will be more 
readily appreciated. It is said to be 
unsurpassed among Allied nations. 

Of these, 100,000 men were to see 
Active service abroad in foreign 
countries, the majority in the Middle 
East theatre. And under the able 
direction of Dr. H. J. van der Bijl we 
were to become the workshop of the 
desert armies, and a big manufacturing 
centre of war materials. The Pretoria 
Mint turned out vast quantities of 
small-arms ammunition, while Iscor, 
our iron and steel works, the railways, 
the mines and other industrial 
concerns turned out the heavier 
bombs, shells, field guns and 
armoured cars. This industrial effort, 
in itself, was a considerable achieve- 
ment for a small population. 



Britain was at the time deeply 
involved in her own rearmament, but 
by virtue of our good name and credit 
with the United States, we were able to 
purchase quantities of war material 
from them, especially bomber aircraft. 
Such was our good standing with 
America that we persuaded her to 
waive certain clauses of her Cash and 
Carry declaration, and to transport war 
materials to South Africa in her own 
ships, a privilege extended to no other 
nation. For our seaward defences my 
father roped in the small craft that 
plied round our coast, which were 
swiftly adapted to mine-sweeping and 
patrol duty. A large Coastal Patrol arm 
of the Air Force was formed to assist 
them and these scanned the seas for 
great distances beyond our 2,500-mile 
shore-line. 



For internal security a force of 30,000 
National Reserve Volunteers was 
recruited and these guarded all our 
essential points, as well as internment 
and prisoner-of-war camps. 

The Straits of Gibraltar at various 
times became too hazardous and most 
of the Middle East traffic went round 
the Cape. Our ports dealt with huge 
armadas of ships and many hundreds 
of thousands of troops in passage. 
During the first two years of the war 
6,500 ships put in for repairs or 
replenishment. 

The inspiration behind these activities 
was the driving, restless personality of 
Jan Smuts. 



66 : Parliament 

By Tuesday, the 5th September, my 
father had formed his Cabinet. It was 
composed mostiy of United Party 
adherents, with additional members 
from Labour and the Dominion Party 
who supported his war effort. So it 
was that Walter Madeley became 
Minister of Labour and Social Welfare 
and Colonel Stallard Minister of 
Mines. 

Our old friend Deneys Reitz was 
second-in-command to my father. 
There was Colin Steyn, another ex- 
President's son. And there was 
J.H. Hofmeyr, Minister of Finance, the 
most willing and ablest of his 
ministers. It would be no exaggeration 
to say that the Cabinet consisted 
largely of Hofmeyr and my father, for 
here were teamed together the two 
ablest ministers in the long history of 



South African politics. Though both 
were giants and men of unsurpassed 
intellect, they differed radically in 
many ways. Hofmeyr, the child 
wonder and brilliant student and 
professor, was brought up quietly in 
the seclusion of the academic world. 
He was undoubtedly one of the 
greatest contemporary orators in the 
English language, and almost as fluent 
in Afrikaans. By nature a serious and 
deeply religious bachelor, and a man 
of great resolution and moral courage, 
he tackled unflinchingly and 
efficiently the work of half a dozen 
ministers. But Hofmeyr lacked those 
tempering fires of war that had 
hardened my father for the battle of 
life and made a practical man and a 
man of action of him. He was too 
rigidly bound by a puritanical outiook 
to make a successful diplomat, though 



he made a wonderful friend. He was 
too bigotedly unbending, and still too 
much of the professor. The divine 
spark of leadership had eluded him 
and he was destined to follow and to 
sustain, rather than to lead. Yet, he 
will undoubtedly go down in history 
as one of our greatest men. My father 
was first and most generous in praise 
of Hofmeyr, for he knew only too well 
the strain of such an intense and 
sustained effort as his lieutenant was 
now enduring. 

Some people have endeavoured to 
compare Hofmeyr' s intellect with that 
of my father. They do not bear 
comparison either in extensiveness or 
intensiveness or in any other sense. 
Hofmeyr' s would have fitted 
comfortably into a corner of my 
father's, and still have been obscured. 



Mr. Hofmeyr was heir-apparent to my 
father, and as such he drew more than 
a fair share of the Nationalist 
vituperation which was normally 
reserved only for my father. But he 
attracted criticism also on his own 
accord, for he belonged to a small but 
distinguished school of liberals, who 
wished to see a more moderate attitude 
adopted towards the non-Europeans. 
The Nationalists critically avowed that 
he was the greatest "Kaffir boetie" 
(Negrophile) the country had ever 
seen. They were probably right, for 
Hofmeyr never lost an opportunity to 
champion the native cause, often to the 
intense embarrassment of his friends 
and his party. No inducement would 
prevail upon him to maintain a 
diplomatic silence. 

Nothing in South Africa runs deeper 
than our age-ingrained feelings on 



colour. They transcend our Christian 
feelings. Friends tried to explain away 
Hofmeyr's liberal native policy by 
saying he was ahead of his time. But 
the Nationalists made his ideas the 
focal point of attack. And in time their 
attacks bore fruit. 

In view of Deneys Reitz's failing 
health, my father, in 1942, induced 
him to take over the South African 
High Commissionership in London, a 
position he filled with great dis- 
tinction. His sudden death in South 
Africa House in October, 1944, was a 
grievous loss to both countries. My 
father felt the loss of this life-long 
friend and disciple keenly. In tribute 
he spoke of his "dear friend and 
comrade, a faithful companion through 
the vicissitudes such as few have 
passed through. He was true, straight 
and upright - every inch of him - and 



he leaves a personal memory which I 
shall cherish all my days." 

The new Government set to work with 
a will, as befitted one in time of crisis. 
Now, more than ever in its history, 
Smuts was South Africa. Nobody - 
not even his opponents - denied it. I 
think the eight years that followed 
were the greatest in the life of my 
father. They were, also, the greatest in 
the history of South Africa. At a stage 
in life when most men were tottering 
slowly towards the grave, this man 
was called upon to perform his major 
task - and was striding briskly 
forward, erect and buoyant, young in 
heart and undaunted in spirit, and 
eager to be of service to his country. 
Mentally and physically he was still at 
his peak. His doctors said he had the 
arteries of a man twenty years his 
junior and he himself said he felt fit to 



live to a hundred. Had he not 
overworked himself, this might have 
been a possibility. 

The decision of the House on that 
fateful 4th of September was the finish 
of Hertzog. Age and disaster now 
swiftly overtook him, and later, 
deserted by most of his fair-weather 
friends, he retired, broken and 
saddened, to live out his twilight on 
his farm Waterval near Pretoria. Only 
Havenga and a few old stalwarts 
followed him into the night, the rest 
losing little time ill declaring their 
allegiance to the dour, unbending Dr. 
Malan, leader of the Purifieds. My 
father was out of South Africa at the 
time of Hertzog's death in 1942, or he 
would unquestionably have made a 
point of attending the funeral. 

For more than half a lifetime Hertzog 
had lost no opportunity to slander and 



to vilify my father. My father forgot 
and forgave all this after he had 
defeated him. As a first token he put, 
much to the annoyance of the public, 
one of the special ministerial coaches 
on the railways at the General's 
disposal. On the ex-Prime Minister's 
birthday he crossed the floor of the 
House, and after friendly greeting, sat 
next to him on his bench and chatted 
for a long while in most friendly 
manner. Subsequentiy, when Hertzog 
retired, my father secured for him a 
pension of two thousand pounds per 
annum in recognition of his past 
services. 

The problems that pressed were not 
only those connected with the war. 
There was the problem of those ranged 
against the war. Once more the old 
issue of republicanism sprang to life, 
though it never attained its former 



proportions. There were mass meet- 
ings, but feelings were more academic 
and subdued. But, nevertheless, they 
were embarrassing, especially as some 
of the senior politicians were serious 
about their preachings. 

Certain subversive organisations, too, 
were serious and active. One was the 
so-called Ossewa Brandwag which 
was originally conceived more as a 
cultural organisation and received 
much support in 1938 from the 
symbolism of the Voortrekker Cen- 
tenary Celebrations. But gradually its 
aims strayed into turbulent political 
waters and it developed into one of our 
two most dangerous Afrikaner 
organisations. Its leader was Dr. J.H. 
van Rensburg, one-time Administrator 
of the Free State and Civil servant 
under my father, and, strangely, 
always an admirer of his. In its early 



stages the Ossewa Brandwag and Dr. 
Malan's Nationalists worked together, 
but towards the end of 1941, after 
sharp differences of opinion, many 
broke away with Dr. van Rensburg to 
form a new group. Additional 
elements with Nazi aims hived off in 
1942 from the Nationalists to form the 
New Order Party under Oswald Pirow, 
to await, hopefully, successful German 
developments in the war. 

My father tolerated all these, as well as 
the more dangerous Broederbond with 
the aggravating patience born of long 
experience. His patience was almost 
more than his followers could bear, for 
it is difficult to be tolerant in time of 
war. But he knew full well that 
nothing was quite so humiliating and 
killing to these organisations as to 
ignore them completely. More active 
interest would only have served to 



consolidate and to strengthen, and to 
create unwanted martyrs. So he 
watched them intently and maintained 
public security and order. Those who 
perpetrated acts of terrorism by using 
explosives were dealt with through 
police channels. A few hundred of the 
worst extremists were swiftly rounded 
up and, together with avowed German 
nationals, put behind barbed wire. 

And so, as my father was fond of 
quoting, "the dogs may bark, but the 
caravan moves on". 

One of his first acts was to pass 
Emergency Regulations. 

He was determined to rush ahead with 
the parliamentary work with all 
possible speed. In order to curb 
verbosity in the War Measures Bill 
and to expedite its passage, he 
introduced the "guillotine" or Closure 



of Debate, which much incensed the 
Opposition. And a little later, to ensure 
that the House would finish its work in 
May, he introduced sittings in the 
mornings and at night, in addition to 
the normal afternoon sittings. During 
the last ten days he rushed through the 
House an unprecedented volume of 
work including the Electoral Laws 
Amendment Bill, the Advertising and 
Ribbon Amendment Bill, the 
Industrial Development Bill, the 
Unemployment Benefit Amendment 
Bill, the War Pensions Bill, the 
Income Tax Bill and the Rents 
Amendment Bill. The Nationalists 
complained bitterly at the haste, and 
even my father's followers appeared a 
little startled. But time was short, and 
my father was in his stride. Even the 
pro-Government Forum rebuked my 
father for his "steam-roller methods". 



The Session was stormy and 
unpleasant, quite as bad as any 
previous one. But his enthusiasm and 
the nature of the tasks ahead sustained 
my father and kept him cheerful. 

Since my father had last been Prime 
Minister a fine new official residence, 
modelled on the Old Cape Dutch style, 
had been erected on the ridge near 
Government House, in Bryntirion, 
Pretoria. This my mother decided to 
name "Libertas" after the old family 
home in Stellenbosch, and also 
because it seemed an appropriate name 
in time of war. We never lived in 
Libertas, preferring to stay on in the 
old rambling farmhouse at Irene. My 
father used it only to entertain official 
guests, and occasionally for a hurried 
lunch. The setting of the house is 
attractive with fine views of Pretoria 
sprawling at its feet in the south, and 



the massive Magaliesberg rampart on 
the north. 

Groote Schuur still formed my father's 
place of abode during parliamentary 
sessions. Such of the rest of the family 
as were available would take it in turn 
to keep him company, and my father 
looked forward to the pleasures and 
distractions of his grandchildren. 

Groote Schuur was little changed since 
our last visits. Mr. Bennington, the 
caretaker, we were delighted to find 
still there. "Mr. Benny", who arrived 
shortly after the days of Rhodes, was 
quite an institution. The place will 
never be the same without him. He 
knew my father's habits and they got 
on splendidly. And he spoiled us all 
when down there. 

In discussion with Sir Herbert Baker 
in London at various times, both had 



agreed that Groote Schuur was too 
hemmed in by trees. So now my father 
had some of the decrepit ones behind 
the house thinned out. The aspect was 
improved and the public liked it 
because it gave a better view of the 
house from the road near the 
University. 

Another botanical matter, this time 
decided in collaboration with Dr. Pole 
Evans, was the clearing of the artificial 
pine woods from the slopes of Devil's 
Peak above the Rhodes Memorial, to 
enable the fine Cape flora once more 
to re-establish itself. This met with 
some public criticism, but soon the 
lovely flora began to establish itself 
and made the experiment a success. 

In Parliament my father again revealed 
himself as an unsurpassed master and 
showed his strategic skill. His 
numerical supremacy in the House 



was slender, if one considers the great 
tasks that lay ahead. Some of his 
adherents, though they had voted with 
him in the crucial neutrality issue, 
were only lukewarm adherents and 
their support could not be counted on 
at all times. By a great mastery, my 
father managed to smooth over 
contentious legislation, and other 
points of disagreement. 

At the same time he lent the 
Opposition no advantage by attacking 
them. They were at the time a series of 
warring factions, each manoeuvring 
for personal power. Any form of 
attack would merely have tended to 
consolidate them. My father left them 
alone with their squabblings. Though 
they were loud and subversive in the 
House he did nothing to muzzle them. 
They were merely quarrelling 
themselves to destruction. But it was a 



trying policy to follow, and many of 
my father's loyal supporters were 
restive at the latitude permitted them. 
But my father felt he was right in 
sticking to this tolerance. He was 
giving them sufficient rope to hang 
themselves. 

Instead the whole United Party 
machine was turned full blast against 
Pirow. Scorn, criticism and ridicule 
were poured on him to such effect that 
he was deflated and killed politically. 
He never succeeded in staging a 
recovery, though he remained an 
untiring preacher of anti-war 
propaganda. 

It was a sound strategy to make Pirow 
a focal point, for it roused little feeling 
in the Opposition, while at the same 
time it boosted our war morale 
considerably. 



For once, during the blitz on Pirow on 
March 15, my father departed from his 
inflexible habit never to launch a 
personal attack on an opponent. He 
attacked Pirow for his failure to carry 
out his defence plan announced in 
1934. "I have no objection to the plan 
itself," my father declared caustically, 
"I will fulfil it just as I have fulfilled 
other promises made and broken by 
Mr. Pirow. Mr. Pirow' s work was 
more a danger to the country than a 
protection. His plans were all right, 
but they were just grandiose plans and 
talk. It was all something on paper... 
Mr. Pirow dreamed for five years, 
publicly and before all the country... 
Now we are working day and night, 
not to make a plan, but to make an 
army. That was Mr. Pirow' s duty in 
those five years... We have to do it 
today." 



Part 4 
Second World War 



67 : War 

Meanwhile events had not gone well 
for us in Europe. The Polish campaign 
lasted only three weeks. The twenty- 
five Polish divisions were no match 
for the fifty-four German ones, of 
which seven were armoured; nor was 
there serious opposition to the 2,000 
front-line aircraft of the Luftwaffe. 

Warsaw was bombed into blazing 
submission. It was a blitzkrieg pattern 
of battles to come. 

The British and French ultimatum 
expired, and on 3rd September they 
were in a state of war with Germany. 
On 3rd October a British 
Expeditionary Force under Lord Gort 
took over a section of the Franco- 



Belgian frontier. As yet they numbered 
only two corps of three divisions each. 
Along the French frontier ran the 
Maginot Line, an elaborate bastion of 
steel and concrete, in which huddled a 
huge impassive French army. But 
along the Belgian frontier there was no 
fabulous concrete wall. 

With the onset of winter came 
temporary stagnation. 

In December the German pocket 
battleship. Graf von Spee, was run to 
earth by three British cruisers and 
scuttled off Montevideo in the River 
Plate. 

Russia followed up the partition of 
Poland by casting her eyes about for 
fresh gains. At the end of November 
she invaded Finland. Sweden and 
Norway blocked direct French 
support, and though the Finns at first 



had the best of exchanges, Russian 
numbers told and by the Treaty of 
Moscow (13th March, 1940) Finland 
capitulated to Russian aggression. 

In middle February, following her now 
standard technique of simultaneous 
mass invasion at many points, coupled 
with adroit use of internal fifth column 
elements, Germany fell on Norway 
and Denmark. Denmark yielded 
without resistance. Norway put up a 
brief but ineffectual defence. Britain 
came to her aid, but in insufficient 
numbers to stem the tide. 

The shock of Norway unseated the 
Government in Britain and on 6th 
May, 1940, Winston Churchill 
succeeded Mr. Chamberlain. One of 
Mr. Churchill's first acts was to set up 
a Ministry of Aircraft Production. It 
was a wise decision. Britain was going 
to need aircraft. 



Though preoccupied with Europe, my 
father nevertheless realised clearly that 
his problems lay in Africa. They lay 
more specifically with Mussolini, 
who, he had no doubt, would bring 
Italy into the war when he thought the 
moment propitious. That is the nature 
of the jackal. Britain did not feel quite 
so strongly about this Dictator, but 
France, doubting his intentions 
intensely, kept an army of over half a 
million men in readiness across the 
Alps. 

Our South African army was designed 
on the assumption of a campaign in 
East Africa. It was a land of immense 
size, located far from the big bases. 
Emphasis was therefore laid upon 
transport and mobility. Thanks to 
Henry Ford we soon built up a large 
fleet of lorries and troop carriers. With 
memories of the last war, we saw to it 



that there were ample Medical units in 
support, as well as many specialist 
Engineer units to see to water 
problems and communications. 
Lieutenant-General Sir Pierre van 
Ryneveld was the Chief of Staff, with 
Headquarters in Pretoria, while at 
Premier Mine, a few miles outside the 
city, were vast training camps under 
canvas. The hard work on the parade 
grounds and clouds of red dust failed 
to damp our ardour. 

We knew Italy had 200,000 troops in 
Africa, and though some of these were 
native askaris (banda), there was no 
question that it was a well established 
and formidable army. The British 
force in Kenya at the time consisted of 
elements of the King's African Rifles, 
native troops, numbering little more 
than half a division. A thousand miles 
of frontier had to be defended. Six 



hundred miles from this frontier lay 
the key East African towns of Nairobi 
and Mombasa. 

On the 10th of June, Mussolini, 
satisfied that Germany had already 
won the war, struck at Moyale, a small 
outpost on the Northern frontiers of 
Kenya. That same evening he made an 
impassioned speech from a balcony of 
the Palazzo Venezia in Rome: 

"Italy has done all she possibly can to 
arrest this terrible war... This is the 
hour of irrevocable decisions." Italy 
was at war. On the South African radio 
that same night my father delivered a 
national broadcast. South Africa was 
at war with Italy. War was on our very 
doorstep. 

That day, as the latest Italian bomber 
aeroplanes sped to their targets in 
Kenya, four South African Air Force 



bombers struck at the same time at 
Moyale with two tons of high explo- 
sive bombs. Thereafter our bombing 
of Italian targets in Abyssinia, such as 
Yavello, Kisimayo, Neghelli, Moga- 
dishu, became steadily more frequent 
and more massive, until finally we had 
literally swept the Italians from the 
skies of East Africa. 

Numerous factors from time to time 
occurred which proved favourable to 
the Government. In April, 1940, by a 
shrewd stroke my father concluded a 
wool sales agreement with the British 
Government whereby they agreed to 
take over our entire wool clip for the 
period of the war. At the same time the 
price was raised by a third over the 
pre-war one of 8s. 3d. per pound. This 
induced many wool farmers, who were 
predominandy Nationalist, to swing to 
my father. 



On the 10th of May Holland was 
invaded and Rotterdam sacked by the 
Luftwaffe, the Royal Family fleeing to 
Britain. Considering our racial origins 
in South Africa, this had a profound 
effect on people's feelings, though 
strange to relate, the feelings were not 
as deep as one would have expected. 
Dr. Malan and the other die-hard 
Nationalists passed it off with a shrug, 
remarking that the move was no doubt 
dictated by purely strategic considera- 
tions. Their excuses had a somewhat 
hollow ring, but it seemed to satisfy 
their unenlightened followers. 

"Now you see," said my father in a 
national broadcast, "that neutrality 
does not mean protection. Germany 
stops at nothing." The rape of the 
Netherlands did serve, however, to 
expedite the flow of volunteers to the 



colours. Our camps were full to over- 
flowing. 

In April, 1940, General Sir Archibald 
Wavell, Commander-in-Chief of the 
Middle East, came down to South 
Africa for consultations with my father 
on questions of strategy and South 
African participation in the war. Short- 
ly after, a fleet of 300,000 tons of 
transports anchored in Table Bay, by 
far the largest armada of troopships 
ever seen in South African waters. 
They were bound for the Middle East. 
The first contingent of Springbok 
troops left with them. 

The main mass of our troops left later 
for East Africa. At the Premier Mine 
training camp in July my father, 
dressed in his First World War 
uniform, but now wearing the badge of 
rank of a full general, bade them good- 
bye in fatherly words: 



From personal experience I know what 
awaits you. I know what war means - 
seven years of my life have been spent 
in wars. They were among the hardest 
years of my life, but they were also 
full of the richest experience that life 
can give. I would not exchange my 
war experiences of the Anglo-Boer 
War and the last Great War for all the 
gold of the Rand. 

You are going to face danger, hardship 
and sacrifice - perhaps death itself - in 
all its fierce forms. But through it all 
you will gather that experience of life 
and enrichment of character which is 
more valuable than gold or precious 
stones. 

You will become better and stronger 
men. You will not return the same as 
you went. You will bring back 
memories which you and yours will 
treasure for life. Above all, you will 



have that proud consciousness that you 
have done your duty by your country 
and rendered your contribution to its 
future security and happiness. 

You will not be mere items in the 
population; you will come back as 
builders of your own nation, of its best 
traditions, of its lofty national spirit 
and of its national pride... 

Many of you will revisit familiar 
haunts in the north. But to most of you 
that will be a new world, full of great 
interest of all kinds. You will see the 
vastness of this continent, its immense 
variety, its richness and grandeur of 
scenery, its magnificence in every 
respect. You go to it now as the 
strategic rampart and defence lines of 
South Africa... 

We have fought for our freedom in the 
past. We now go forth as crusaders, as 



children of the Cross to fight for 
freedom itself, the freedom of the 
human spirit, the free choice of the 
human individual to shape his own life 
according to the light that God has 
given him. The world cause of 
freedom is also our cause and we shall 
wage this war for human freedom until 
God's victory crowns the end. 

This First South African Division, like 
the rest of our volunteer army, wore 
the distinctive "orange flash" on their 
shoulder tabs, signifying that they 
were prepared to serve anywhere in 
Africa. 

This was necessary as the Union 
Defence Act limited service to our 
own country. 

Throughout these war years stringent 
security measures were taken to 
protect the person of my father, as 



there were many fanatics about as well 
as Nazi agents. Wherever he went he 
was accompanied by guards, and 
security measures were also taken 
round his house at Irene and at Groote 
Schuur. He found it irksome having 
men about him always, but the 
authorities over-ruled his objections. 
Yet it was useful in some respects in 
that it provided him with energetic 
walking and climbing companions.. It 
was a matter of routine with him that 
he always walked new ones comple- 
tely off their feet. 



68 : Walking And Exercise 

Throughout his life my father had an 
implicit faith in exercise, especially 
walking and climbing, which he con- 
sidered most beneficial. Walking was 
an urge he developed as a boy on the 
farm at Riebeeck West, when he 
tramped the veld in company with the 
old Hottentot Adam. 

We in the family have lived and grown 
up with a father who walked or 
climbed at every opportunity. We were 
in after years to come to look upon 
this urge for exercise as the great 
doctor. Walking had the same effect 
on my father as that turbulent "Old 
Doctor" which sweeps the Cape 
Peninsula, the south-easter. We had 
come to look upon it both as a safety- 
valve and a rejuvenator. It was really a 
religion - that religion of the mountain 



he expounded so eloquently at 
Maclear's Beacon in 1923. 

My father was never an ardent 
supporter of the organised forms of 
sport. He preferred to accord these a 
more lowly place as something 
mechanical and synthetic. He did not 
in his earlier days combine botany 
with his walking. About 1921 he first 
came into contact with Dr. LB. Pole 
Evans and under his guidance that love 
for plants finally found its full 
expression. It followed him thereafter, 
without diminution, like a great friend, 
and no matter where he went he 
always took with him some book on 
botany, even if it were only the slender 
volume of Burt Davie. 

My earliest memories of my father 
stretch back almost thirty-five years, 
and the most indelible of those 
memories were undoubtedly of jaunts 



into the veld, of walking, climbing and 
riding, and later of botanising. Never a 
week-end or spare moment passed 
without his taking us on some outing. 
The walking we somewhat dreaded, 
for he always walked too fast for us. 
The climbs we found still more 
difficult. The jaunts by car were more 
to our taste, though driving in those 
early days after the First World War 
was very different from the 
comfortable trouble-free travelling of 
today. All his life, since 1911, my 
father was fond of driving his own car, 
though a lack of insight into 
mechanical matters (the only subject 
in life in which his knowledge was 
limited) often made his trips 
hazardous. He continued driving to the 
last, to his eighty-first year. He drove 
the seventy-five miles back himself 
from his bushveld farm the day before 



he was stricken down by his fatal 
coronary thrombosis, though at the 
time he was much fatigued and feeling 
far from well. He enjoyed driving, for 
it took his mind off worries. 

During holidays, we went on camping 
expeditions, which usually took us 
northwards from Pretoria. His love for 
the camp was a remnant of Boer War 
days, and he liked to camp in most 
spartan fashion. Other than a tarpaulin 
or some small bivouac tents we took 
no shelter with us, and thunderstorms 
left us bedraggled. These trips covered 
the sub-continent as far afield as Lake 
Tanganyika (described in Dr. John 
Hutchinson's book) and Lake Nyasa, 
the Zimbabwe Ruins; the Victoria 
Falls, the Kruger National Park, and 
much else in addition, all on separate 
trips. The Pilandsberg (where he 
owned a farm), the Blaauberg (where 



he was fond of botanising or seeing 
the blind old native chief Malaboch), 
Wyliespoort and the Sebasa Hills were 
favourite haunts of his, and though he 
never hunted, he often accompanied us 
on shooting trips into Portuguese East 
Africa and elsewhere. On these trips 
he collected botanical specimens 
freely and his bulky botanical presses 
always formed a problem of stowage 
in our cars. The camp fires drew from 
him a fund of reminiscences. Some- 
times in the chill of a winter's night in 
camp he would rise from his cold bed 
and kindle a fire, and before long we 
shivering youngsters would all join 
him. He relished camp life to the full. 
Frequently I have heard him give 
expression to his satisfaction by that 
old exclamation of his: "Bountiful 
Jehovah!" Then you knew he was 
really enjoying himself. 



He inherited from the Boer War, too, a 
fondness for horseback riding. Until 
about 1930 a long ride was always part 
of the weekend ritual. Unfortunately I 
am not a born horseman and must 
confess that I found these long rides a 
trial. The satisfaction my father 
derived from riding was, however, 
different from that of walking. He 
looked upon riding as a good mode of 
exercise and not as one for 
communion with the universe. I think 
that that, as well as his tummy trouble, 
was why in later years he dropped 
riding and took only to walking, for it 
was really only from walking that he 
derived that true inner satisfaction. 

Just exactly how he set about his 
walking and what part the 
surroundings played I endeavoured to 
decide for years. The conclusions I 
came to are that the actual physical 



artistry of his surroundings played 
only a minor part. It was the 
associations of sentiment with areas in 
which he walked that he really saw. 
My father was no artist of landscape 
form. He loved a scene more for what 
it symbolised in his mind's eye than 
for its outiines or colours. Not that he 
was unattuned to the beauties of 
landscape. No lover of nature could be 
that. But he just did not see the vistas 
and panoramas as an artist or a 
photographer would compose them. 
Yet for all that, I am certain he loved 
what he saw just as much, and 
probably with a deeper understanding. 

When my father walked, he walked 
with gusto and determination, and at a 
hot pace, never pausing to rest or to 
admire. He would maintain a steady 
three and a half miles per hour, for he 
loved to feel his lungs expanding to 



the full and to have the sweat running 
down in rivulets. He preferred what he 
called the "ups and down" to walking 
on the flat. A favourite walk of his at 
Irene was a ten-mile one which took in 
seven low hills. Roads he shunned 
wherever possible, preferring a more 
difficult way through the veld. Barbed- 
wire fences lie took in his stride. He 
normally took no water or lunch with 
him, though sometimes he used to 
carry an orange or an apple. In later 
years they gave him indigestion so he 
stopped. With him in his pocket he 
always, carried an iodine pencil, 
doctoring cuts and scratches on the 
spot. Slung on his shoulders he would 
carry a pair of binoculars, though he 
very seldom used these. I think it was 
an old wartime habit. In his hand he 
carried a stout stick, which he seldom 
used. 



He wore heavy boots and thick socks, 
for he had tender feet and his ankles 
had both been broken by treading in 
holes, in his youth. On his head he 
would wear his oldest and most 
battered panama hat, an almost 
unrecognisable article of headgear. In 
later years he often wore dark glasses 
for the glare. For the rest he would be 
dressed in a khaki shirt and slacks, the 
shirt sleeves never being rolled up, but 
unbuttoned when hot. That was 
because he was, rather susceptible to 
sunburn. 

From his walks he would come back 
sun-tanned and wet with perspiration, 
not fatigued (for he had amazing 
stamina) but just nicely tired and 
contented, and at peace with the world. 
With the quickening of his pulses 
during the walking he had been able to 
get a clearer perspective of things and 



had solved the problems he had had in 
mind at the start. He had also found 
time to talk and to reminisce. In all, he 
had had a really good and satisfying 
outing. Then followed a mug of cool 
beer and a bath or shower, after which 
he settled down happily to a normal 
working routine for the remainder of 
the day, as though he had had no 
strenuous, exercise at all. 

In 1926 we tried to get him interested 
in golf at Irene, but after a few swings 
he said it was far too mechanical. He 
was quite a familiar figure on the Irene 
golf course, however, not as a player,, 
but as a figure crossing the fairways en 
route on some walk. He was also a 
familiar figure at the Pretoria Country 
Club, for this was a terminal point on 
his cross-country walks between 
Pretoria and Irene. 



Mountaineering, like walking, was in 
my father's blood. 

I have vivid memories of my father on 
the summit of Table Mountain. Here 
he would pause for a while and, 
leaning on his long stick, take in the 
glorious panoramas around him, his 
hat in his hand and his white hair 
blowing in the breeze. His open khaki 
shirt and his unbuttoned sleeves would 
flap about and complete the 
informality of the picture. 

Of the first thirty-five of the forty 
years my father spent in the Houses of 
Parliament, he made an ascent of 
Table Mountain almost every week- 
end, climbing always on foot, some- 
times alone or sometimes with other 
parties of climbers. On the mountain 
he was always friendly and approach- 
able. Many young mountaineers 
learned to know and to love him on 



these jaunts. All learned to admire his 
physical stamina and his enriching 
philosophy. 

In all he must have accomplished over 
300 climbs of this mountain before he 
was finally advised in 1948, because 
of his age, to stop these strenuous 
climbs. For the twenty years the 
cable way was in existence, he never 
used it to get to the top, and on only 
one occasion; in company with the 
King and Queen in 1947, did he make 
a descent in it. He climbed mostly 
from the north or Kirstenbosch side, 
preferring Skeleton Gorge to any 
other, though in his time he made 
many ascents up every possible route. 
He never did the hazardous Alpine 
form of rock climbing, however, pre- 
ferring the more normal forms of 
climbing. 



In all the years he climbed he always 
worked to a time schedule of about 
three hours from Kirstenbosch to 
Maclear's Beacon. In 1896 it was 
three hours, and it was still three hours 
in 1946. He made a point, where 
possible, of descending by a different 
route. The rather different form of 
exercise occasioned by descent he 
relished quite as much as that of 
climbing. 

He loved not only Table Mountain, but 
all mountains. In a long life of 
climbing he found time to climb 
virtually all the mountains of the Cape, 
as far afield as Ceres. He could never 
resist the lure of the mountain. 

Though he preferred a fine day for a 
climb, he was not deterred by 
unfavourable conditions. His 

experiences on the mountain have 
been numerous, but there was one 



terrifying one which he never failed to 
relate. It occurred in August, 1939, 
when winter was already well 
advanced in the Cape. Parliament had 
risen, but he had had to make a special 
journey to Cape Town, as Deputy 
Prime Minister, to see the Portuguese 
President Carmona off at the docks. 
He arrived at the Civil Service Club a 
day early, and to pass away the time 
decided to do a lone climb up Table 
Mountain. The weather looked 
distinctly drizzly, for it was well into 
the Cape rainy season, but he thought 
he might risk it. My sister, Louis, took 
him as far as the Cableway Station. 
Platteklip Gorge was running strongly 
with water, but he managed to make 
his way up without much difficulty. 
Near the top it started to rain and he 
was soon cold and drenched, but he 
pressed on to the top. By the time he 



reached Maclear's Beacon it was 
raining hard and had turned bitterly 
cold and windy, so he returned the one 
and a half miles to the Cable Station, 
hoping to get a cage down. But the 
weather was too bad for that, and the 
lower station was locked and the 
driver gone. There were now only two 
courses open; to remain here at the 
Upper Cable Station, or to attempt the 
descent. While the caretaker dried his 
clothes before a fire he made up his 
mind to return, for there was no phone 
and friends below would worry. 

So he set off back in the swirling mists 
and rain to Maclear's Beacon, finding 
great difficulty in this, for not only 
was visibility almost completely 
restricted, but the whole mountain top 
was under water, only rocks and 
boulders sticking out. He made a cold 
and laborious way by jumping, as far 



as possible, from rock to rock. 
Conditions grew steadily worse and 
more dangerous, for by now it was 
well into the afternoon and freezingly 
cold. Eventually, when near Maclear's 
Beacon, he slipped as he jumped and 
fell heavily with his right hip on a 
rock. For some moments, he said, he 
lay dead still, too afraid to attempt to 
move, for he felt certain that he had 
broken his hip. But he found he could 
sit up and that his hip, though very 
painful, was intact. And so he pro- 
gressed on his weary, cold and painful 
way down the mountain. Skeleton 
Gorge was an endless series of roaring 
waterfalls and quite impassable, but by 
luck, in the gathering gloom, he 
managed to skirt the gorge by 
climbing down the series of steep 
rocky cliffs at the side. All the time it 
literally poured. 



Almost at the end of his tether from 
strain and exposure, he came out at the 
Kirstenbosch Kiosk at 8 p.m., and so 
set at rest many worried people. He 
told that story in my presence on three 
occasions with great pride, looking 
upon this day as one of his greatest 
victories over overwhelming forces. 
But he never omitted to remark that it 
had been a "terrible day! Really 
terrible!!" 



69 : Abyssinian Campaign 

During the war my mother was no 
less active than my father. With her 
deep convictions on political issues 
and her warm motherly feelings for 
mankind, she quickly took my father's 
troops to her heart. She was appointed 
Chairman of our Gifts and Comforts 
organisation, which proved small 
luxuries for our army personnel, and 
speedily had the organisation flourish- 
ing on a nation-wide scale. Her enthu- 
siasm for the cause of "my boys" was 
infectious and the troops grew to love 
their "Ouma". Groote Schuur and 
Libertas became a hive of "work 
parties", where staid housewives and 
others knitted and sewed. It was an 
effort which the troops regarded with 
affection. 

During the First World War my 
mother had also been Chairman of the 



Gifts and Comforts Committee, but it 
was at that time a very much smaller 
organisation. For her services she had 
been offered a C.B.E., but she had 
declined this honour on the grounds 
that there were other more deserving 
people. 

In October, 1940, my father inaugu- 
rated the National Reserve Volunteers 
for internal security duties, including 
the guarding of vital installations, 
internment or prisoner-of-war camps. 

At the end of October he paid an eight- 
day visit to the front in East Africa, 
going first to Khartoum for a confe- 
rence with Anthony Eden, British 
Foreign Secretary, and General 
Wavell. Thereafter he returned to Nai- 
robi where he visited South African 
hospitals and troops in forward areas. 



Mr. Churchill did not favour a 
campaign in Abyssinia but advocated 
coming to grips directly with the 
Italians in the crucial North African 
theatre. He wanted to send the South 
African troops to Wavell in the 
Western Desert where he felt they 
would be more usefully employed. 
While there was much to be said on 
the tactical side for concentrating on 
the Mediterranean, my father felt that 
the need to shield, the people of Kenya 
and Southern Africa from an invader 
outweighed simple tactical conside- 
rations. At the Khartoum Conference 
with Eden my father pressed this point 
and Wavell concurred. On the strength 
of this it was decided to wage a vigo- 
rous campaign in East Africa. Events 
have justified this decision. 

The East African visit very nearly had 
disastrous consequences, for after 



taking off from Nanyuki one morning 
for Garba Tula, in the North Frontier 
District, he heard about the superb 
camouflage of our main air base at 
Archer's Post, some miles off his 
route, and decided to go and see for 
himself. Archer's Post he knew as the 
erstwhile headquarters of the famous 
elephant hunter "Karamoia" Bell. 
With him in the plane, which was a 
converted German Junkers Ju. 86, was 
General van Ryneveld, our C.G.S., 
Lieutenant-General Alan Cunningham, 
the new General Officer Commanding, 
East Africa, and Major-General 
Godwin-Austin, under whom our 
South African troops were fighting. 
All the eggs were in one basket. 

By an unfortunate oversight, Archer's 
Post had not been informed of my 
father's intentions, and by a further 
unfortunate oversight the pilot, 



Captain Raubenheimer, was not 
instructed in the local recognition 
signals. So, after approaching the 
aerodrome at a few thousand feet, he 
did a right-hand circuit instead of a 
left-hand one, and omitted to lower his 
undercarriage or to waggle his wings. 
To those on the ground the plane and 
its behaviour appeared hostile and 
some Hawker Fury fighters took off to 
intercept. 

In order to get a better view, my father 
was sitting forward with Rauben- 
heimer in the cockpit. 

General van Ryneveld noticed streaks 
of dust on the aerodrome below as 
some machines took off, but thought 
no more of it. But a few moments later 
he saw a Fury fighter making straight 
for them and heard the staccato bark of 
machine-gun fire and saw dust rise in 
the machine. He had been shot down 



twice in the First World War, and 
realised with horror that they were 
actually being attacked. The Hurricane 
escort was in a quandary: short of 
shooting down a friend, intervention 
was impossible. However, when the 
Fury made a second swoop he got in 
between and warded it off, and at the 
same time it also dawned on the 
attacker, who deserves the fullest 
credit, that the two Junkers aircraft 
were friendly. 

I saw the aircraft on Wajir landing 
ground where they came down a short 
while after. There were eight holes in 
the fuselage of my father's machine, 
and one bullet had actually passed 
between his legs. But nobody was hurt 
and my father made light of it. At the 
time I was a humble Second Lieute- 
nant in the South African Engineer 







General Smuts with the Writer at Wajir, North 
Frontier District, Kenya - November 1940 

Corps working on the defences of this 
picturesque outpost to the south of 



Moyale. After a few minutes conver- 
sation and the handing over of some 
parcels from home he was off again on 
a long reconnaissance flight along the 
Abyssinian frontier to assess the 
tactical position. 

In little over a week he was back from 
his 7,500-mile trip looking sunburnt 
and optimistic. His impressions lie 
recorded on the radio after his return: 



Physically, our troops make a most 
favourable impression, and are prob- 
ably in advance of any force we have 
ever sent from this country - fit and 
well, and in stature and muscular 
development well above the average. I 
doubt whether anywhere in the world 
troops of a finer physical type can be 
found. In height and breadth they are 
so striking that I have heard a British 
General call them tanks among men! 



How could it be otherwise when as 
volunteers, and not conscripts, they 
represent the flower of our Union 
manhood. The provision for their 
health and physical welfare in that 
exacting climate is the best South 
Africa can give with her hard expe- 
rience of the past to guide her. Long 
training both here and in East Africa 
has produced a fitness and hardness of 
a very high standard... 

Looking at these sons of the fathers 
whom I was proud to lead in the same 
historic field a generation ago, I could 
not but feel high pride and emotion to 
see that they were worthy of the rock 
whence they were hewn. They some- 
times brought a lump to my throat - 
how proud one feels of South Africa 
when one sees how much people are 
prepared to give up at home and to do 
in far-away lauds and under hard 



conditions for the honour of their 
country and the security of its future. 

I have spoken of our boys in East 
Africa. Let me also add a word about 
that wonderful country, that wonder- 
land, which so many old warriors, who 
listen to me tonight, remember so well 
from their experience of the last war. 
Two impressions stand out in my mind 
in reference to this visit - the greatness 
of that world and the goodness of man. 

As I flew hour after hour over those 
endless forests and great lakes, over 
the Great Rift Valley studded with a 
jumble of high mountains and extinct 
volcanoes more magnificent than any 
to be found elsewhere, I had an over- 
whelming impression of the vastness 
and power of Nature and of the forces 
that had shaped the past of this 
continent with unrivalled lavishness 
and grandeur. 



In this gigantic world the human 
element seems dwarfed to utter insig- 
nificance, and one bows one's head in 
wonder before a sublimity so over- 
whelming. Indeed, no words can 
express the impression of the physical 
grandness which that world of East 
Africa produces on one's mind. 

The other impression comes nearer 
home, touches our hearts more closely, 
warming them and raising them as no 
mere external greatness of Nature can 
do. 

I am free to confess that the sight of 
our boys in East Africa kindled a 
deeper emotion in me than even that 
awe-inspiring natural scenery. How 
grand is Nature! How good is man! 

The sight of those young men, with 
their happy, eager faces, with the 
thought of what they had given up to 



serve their fellows and make this a 
safer world for the spirit of man to 
dwell in securely - that sight, that 
thought, made me realise that their 
souls were worthy to match this 
glorious setting of Nature, that the 
goodness of man was a worthy match 
for the greatness of Nature. 

They are the happy warriors of the 
New Order, the champions of that 
spiritual order of the universe which in 
the end is more deeply founded and 
more secure than these ancient hills 
and craters. The New Order will not 
arise under the swastika, which is the 
symbol of past tyrannies and the moral 
enslavement of the human spirit. It can 
only arise wider the sign of the Cross, 
in the spirit of service and self- 
sacrifice, which has carried man from 
his brutal, bestial past to the height of 
his spiritual vision. Not in mastery, but 



in service, not in dictatorship, but in 
freedom lies the secret of man's 
destiny. 

This is what these young South 
Africans stand for, for what I trust 
South Africa will stand for till the very 
end. 



It was one of his nicest and friendliest 
broadcasts. 

In South Africa Malan, fearing 
Pirow's competition, had invited the 
Ossewa Brandwag to join his party. 
South African politicians sometimes 
choose strange bedfellows. 

Soldiers were getting tired of the 
Nationalists and others, and there were 
minor clashes in Johannesburg and 
elsewhere, the worst occurring in 
January and February, 1941, when tile 



soldiers rioted against the non-loyal 
elements in our Police Force. 

On New Year's Day my father 
delivered his annual broadcast: 

We have come, any friends, to the end 
of the darkest year in modern history. 
During it seven nations have fallen 
under the Nazi scourge - a new black 
plague that sears the souls of men, and 
withers civilisation at its roots. Seven 
nations that were free are no longer 
free. Seven peoples that cherished 
liberty have been enslaved. 

That has been calamity enough: but we 
cannot measure what it has meant, and 
what it still means, in the sum of 
human suffering and in the destruction 
of the treasured fruits of human 
endeavour. 

It has been a dark year; but there have 
been great flashes of light - that have 



illumined the darkness when the night 
has been blackest. These flashes of 
light, fitful and spasmodic at first, 
have now become one broad conti- 
nuous beam, flowing down the path to 
victory. This is the spirit of free men; 
this is the beam of light that flashes 
through a world of darkness when the 
flint of human courage is struck... 

Elsewhere I have spoken about the 
probable developments of the war in 
the year 1941, but to my own country- 
men I would say that we have ample 
grounds for confidence. We see today 
the unrivalled resources of the United 
States of America being turned to our 
assistance. The people of that great 
democracy have realised that we of the 
British. Commonwealth are fighting 
their battle for them, and that if we fail 
our defeat will be their defeat and their 
humiliation. We can rest assured of a 



steady and increasing flow from 
America of material help, to supple- 
ment the moral sympathy that has 
always been with our cause. In this 
and in the growing spiritual and 
material power of the whole British 
Commonwealth, lies the assurance of 
victory... 

The call for national unity is clear and 
insistent. National unity is needed for 
the war; it is indeed, too, for the 
victory that is assured. The New Year 
will bring us close to victory; and it 
will, I trust, take South Africa far 
along the path of unity and internal 
peace, to progress and prosperity. 



After my father's visit to East Africa 
we all realised that something big was 
in the air. On Dingaan's Day, the 16th 
December, 1940, South African and 
Gold Coast units, at divisional 



strength, launched the first big and 
successful attack of the war on Italian 
positions at El Wak. For this action the 
South African brigade commander 
Dan Pienaar received the D.S.O. 
Pienaar was to achieve considerable 
fame as a soldier before his tragic 
death in an air crash at Kisumu in 
1942. 

In October WavelFs big North African 
offensive had opened with conspi- 
cuous success. 

After El Wak the offensive in East 
Africa began in earnest. Under the 
able leadership of General Cunning- 
ham the Allied army of two-divisional 
strength fell upon the hordes of 
Mussolini and drove them swiftly 
backwards. Indian troops had for long 
been hammering desperately at the 
tough fortress of Keren in Eritrea. The 
Italians were no match for the dash of 



our armies or its first-class troops and 
swiftly their strong-points crumpled 
and were overrun. On April the 5th the 
Transvaal Scottish ceremonially 
marched into Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's 
capital, and at Amba Alagi, on the 
16th May, the Duke of Aosta 
surrendered with his Italian troops to 
Brigadier Pienaar. 

In many respects it was one of the 
most remarkable campaigns in history. 
Its swiftness was unsurpassed. In fifty- 
three days 1,725 miles had been 
covered in some of the wildest, most 
mountainous country in the world. 
And we had had the privilege of 
providing the Allies with the first big 
victory of the war. 

General Cunningham in his report on 
the operations of the East Africa 
Force, in 1940-41, remarks: "It would 
be idle to close without reference to 



the assistance given by the Union of 
South Africa, without which the 
campaign could not have been under- 
taken. Apart from fighting troops, I 
was indebted to the Union for much of 
the mechanical transport which made 
the supply of troops over such great 
distances in front of railheads and 
ports possible, and to them also I owed 
the provision of a large number of 
special technical units, without which 
operations in the type of terrain 
covered could not have taken place. It 
was with remarkable forethought that 
these units had been formed before the 
war and furnished with the most 
modern equipment. 

"Through the personal interest of 
Field-Marshal Smuts I was at the start 
able to knit the Force into a whole, and 
all the many resources which the 
Union placed at my disposal were 



pooled for the common good of the 
whole Force... 

Lord Wavell makes the interesting 
disclosure that before the operations to 
be undertaken in East Africa were 
decided upon, he was being pressed by 
the Defence Minister in Britain to 
move his forces from East Africa, 
where they were standing idle "with 
no prospect of successful 
employment", to Egypt, where, in Mr. 
Churchill's opinion, they could be 
more usefully employed. On the other 
hand, Lord Wavell was well aware of 
the feeling of nervousness, not only in 
Kenya but also in Rhodesia and even 
in South Africa, that the forces in East 
Africa were not sufficiently strong to 
prevent an Italian invasion of Kenya 
and the countries farther south, and my 
father frequently impressed on him the 
danger of reducing the forces in East 



Africa. Fortunately, the Commander- 
in-Chief gave heed to the warning, 
resisted proposals for any weakening 
or diversion of his forces until the 
enemy had been driven farther back, 
and gave his divisional commanders 
the word to go ahead... 

In March, 1941, my father flew up to 
Nairobi in his Lodestar. He then went 
on to Cairo where he deliberated with 
Eden, Wavell and Dill. At this meeting 
my father stressed the importance of 
the African theatre in the war. He held 
a firm conviction throughout that some 
of the major battles would be fought in 
this area. 

In two broadcasts in 1941 my father 
gave his views on the New Order that 
would follow victory. From Cape 
Town on 2 -6th April he said: 



Some people appear to be depressed 
by the turn of events in the Balkans. 
The sudden and unexpected collapse 
of Yugoslavia after a brief resistance, 
and the overwhelming of Greece after 
her heroic defence against terrible 
odds, make them fear for the future of 
the Allied cause. They also note that 
British forces have once more retired 
before the superior force of the enemy. 
They forget that in the last war the 
position of the Allies in that quarter of 
Europe was far worse than it is today... 
There is such a rush of events, the 
canvas of the world war is so over- 
crowded with incidents, that people 
are apt to become confused, to lose 
their sense of perspective, and fail to 
put events in their proper values and 
relations in the vast framework of the 
war... 




General Smuts broadcasting a New Year Message to the Empire from his home - 1939 



This war will not be settled in the 
Balkans, and the commotion and 
confusion which Germany has stirred 
up there will in the end only contribute 
to her own undoing, whatever present 
successes she may appear to achieve... 

That Britain went to the assistance of 
Greece and other small countries at 
whatever cost to herself is to her 
lasting credit. That she failed in 
Norway, Holland and Belgium is no 
blame, no dishonour, for her helping 
hand stretched to them in the hour of 
her own sore plight, Britain is 
investing in friendships as Germany is 
investing in hatreds in the process of 
the war, and Britain is thus building up 
the moral capital with which the real 
new world order will be floated after 
the peace. As has often happened 
before. Germany is thus winning the 
victories and losing the war. 



To keep the developments of this war 
in a proper perspective, one has 
always to bear in mind what I consider 
to be the real crux of the situation. It is 
this, that Hitler began the war, that he 
is the aggressor and must continue in 
his aggression to the very end. The 
role of Britain is essentially a 
defensive one. If Hitler fails in his 
attack on the fortress of Britain itself 
he will have reached that end - his end 
- and will have lost the war. 

... The intrinsic importance of our 
achievement in East and North Africa 
and in the Mediterranean basin is very 
great. For one thing, the bubble of 
Mussolini has been finally pricked. 
Most of his fleet is at the bottom of his 
"mare nostrum". His African Empire 
lies in ruins and Haile Selassie is 
marching to reoccupy his throne. One 
of the two Axis partners is hopelessly 



bankrupt and becomes a liability to the 
other. That is the way Austria went 
last time, and Germany followed in 
due course... 

Hitler has roused the American giant 
from his slumbers - hence the election 
of President Roosevelt, hence the 
Lease and Lend Act, hence the firm 
and unshakable alignment of all 
responsible American opinion on the 
side of the Allies. More will follow. 
America will yet go all the way. This I 
have for a long time foreseen. To me it 
has long been evident that only 
through America's full participation 
would the way to victory be clear and 
assured. I have looked forward to this 
development, not only for the sake of 
our victory but also for the sake of the 
peace that was to follow. I could not 
see a real fruitful peace without 
America right in it. I could not see 



America participating in peace unless 
she had been through the crucible of 
the war with us. 



A fortnight later he spoke of a new 
World Order that would arise from 
out-and-out Allied victory; 

... It seems to me that the day of the 
small independent sovereign State has 
passed. That is the sign of the times. In 
the absence of a mighty world 
organisation the sad fate of the small 
independent States of Europe in our 
day is likely to be their fate more and 
more in the future. Hitler's victorious 
course so far has at least proved that 
much. Philip of Macedon and 
Alexander the Great proved the same 
for the Hellenic world. The Greek City 
State of ancient history and the small 
independent nation State of today were 
and are anachronisms in the 



circumstances of their respective 
times. 

We are unmistakably in for larger 
human groupings in that holistic 
process which fundamentally moulds 
all life and all history... 

In the inner circle, which now forms 
the heart of the resistance to Hitler, is 
the British Commonwealth of Nations. 
I need not dilate on the particular links 
which associate this world-wide circle 
freely together, but their association is 
undoubtedly a precedent and a 
prototype of the larger World 
Association now in the process of 
formation. 

Closest to this inner circle of the 
British group is the United States of 
America, which has the same ethic of 
life and the same political philosophy. 
Both have, in addition, the strong link 



of a common language and literary 
culture. The two thus form a very 
natural group... 

This new world society would follow 
positive and constructive policies for 
the future, and not concern itself 
particularly with the past and with 
penal or revengeful action towards old 
enemies. And in this way, in due 
course, the world may forget its bitter 
wrongs and once more move into 
paths of peace and friendly economic 
relations among the nations. The 
mistake of the League of Nations in 
attempting too wide and universal 
membership on too loose and nebulous 
a basis of organisation, and duties 
would thus be avoided and the 
Association would grow practically 
out of existing friendships and 
affinities, and might expand later into 
the wider international society of the 



future. We should not attempt to do at 
one stroke what could only be accom- 
plished in a long process of time and 
experience. 

The crux of this next great step in the 
organisation of our world will be the 
attitude of the United States of 
America. I wish to speak quite plainly 
on this point. I feel convinced that the 
United States of America, in 
abandoning the League of Nations to 
its fate, after taking the leading part in 
its foundation, helped to pave the way 
for the world war which is now 
devastating Europe and into which she 
will herself inevitably be drawn. Great 
is thus her responsibility for the world 
situation of today, although, of course, 
I do not deny the great responsibility 
of others... 

First and foremost we shall be called 
upon to put our own house in our own 



democratic circle in order, and ensure 
as far as possible against the sort of 
dangers which have now twice 
overwhelmed us in one generation. 
Leave the rest to time, to the workings 
of ordinary prudence and sympathy 
and reviving generosity, and do not let 
us attempt more than is wisely 
possible for the immediate future after 
the war. Time is a real force, a great 
healer and a great builder. Let us leave 
it its place and its function in our 
vision of the future... 



70 : Fortunes Of War 

In Europe 1940 was a period of great 
disasters for the Allies. Holland was 
overrun in May and Rotterdam 
bombed into a flattened rubble with 
considerable loss of life. Soon the 
Meuse and Albert Canal were forced 
and the whole Belgian front line 
crumbled. By mid-month German 
armoured divisions, quickly traversing 
the difficult Ardennes, broke through 
the 9th French Army and crossed the 
Meuse near Sedan, by so doing 
outflanking the Maginot Line which 
stopped farther to the south. The 
Germans sped on. The Allies had not 
sufficient tanks or anti-tank guns to 
stop the massed German panzers. 

During these anxious days my father 
kept trying to reassure himself, mutter- 
ing: "Now France will throw in her 
reserves. The Frenchman was a 



wonderful fighter in the last war." But 
France never threw in her reserves. 
She had none. What might have been 
her reserve was snugly locked up with 
the million and a quarter men in the 
bowels of the Maginot Line. This Line 
never fired a shot. It was the undoing 
of France, psychologically and tacti- 
cally. 

On the 27th the Belgian king 
surrendered, exposing the flank of 
Lord Gort's British Expeditionary 
Force. Thereafter followed the British 
withdrawal to Dunkirk and the 
successful evacuation across the 
Channel of most of the B.E.F. in one 
of the epic naval exploits of Britain's 
long naval history. By stimulating 
seamanship 224,000 British troops and 
112,000 other Allied troops, mostly 
French, were successfully withdrawn. 



Britain had suffered a temporary 
knock-out blow. 

By now Weygand had succeeded 
General Gamelin in command of the 
French Armies and a fresh effort was 
made to stem the German onrush. The 
Wehrmacht was luckily in no position 
to, pursue the British across the 
Channel, or the war might soon have 
been over. So now Hitler continued in 
a great right hook on Paris,, which was 
entered on 14th June. The French 
Government had withdrawn steadily 
southwards, and Reynaud had made 
way for the Petain-Weygand combina- 
tion. They lost no time in seeking; 
peace terms, and these were ratified at 
Compiegne on the 21st in the same 
railway carriage used by Foch in the 
1918 armistice. 

On the 17th, as France was dying, Mr. 
Churchill made his immortal exhor- 



tation and pledged Britain to go on 
fighting alone, till the end. It was one 
of those decisive declarations that 
mould history. It was a call that 
startled and awakened America. 

Germany now controlled the coastline 
from the northern tip of Norway to the 
southern tip of France. She was ready 
to prepare for the invasion of Britain. 
But before she could cross the 
Channel she had first to knock out the 
R.A.F. In the beginning of August the 
daylight air attacks on Britain began. 
The crucial Battle of Britain had 
started. It did not finish till the end of 
October, by which time British pilots 
and machines had established a clear 
superiority. On the worst day in 
September, R.A.F. pilots claimed to 
have shot down 185 German 
machines. 



By this time it was clear that Britain 
had won the battle. Goering fell into 
considerable disfavour with Hitler and 
plans for an invasion were more or 
less indefinitely shelved. With these 
plans baulked, Goering now turned to 
a nine months programme of terror - 
bombing of British cities by night. 
London bore the brunt, 1,150,000 
houses being damaged, but even in 
Portsmouth only 7 per cent of houses 
escaped bomb damage. Up to the end 
of 1941 190,000 high-explosive 
bombs had been dropped on Britain, 
killing 43,700 civilians and injuring an 
additional 50,000. But Hitler gained 
nothing except hatred and an 
intensified resolve to fight on. 

American aid was steadily pouring in 
on the "cash and carry" basis, which 
meant payment in advance and 
transportation in Britain's own ships. 



But as funds ran out it was modified in 
March, 1941, to Roosevelt's fine 
conception of Lease Lend, which 
ensured that monetary difficulties 
would not hamper supplies. In 
September, 1941, Britain concluded an 
agreement with the United States 
whereby she was given fifty American 
destroyers in exchange for United 
States rights to establish naval and air 
bases in Newfoundland, British 
Guiana and in the West Indies. 

On 27th September, 1940, Germany, 
Italy and Japan signed a Tripartite Pact 
of Alliance. Washington intelligence 
reports twice warned Russia of 
impending German attack. She 
slumbered peacefully on. 

But Italy moved before Germany. 

On 13th September large Italian forces 
under Grazziani crossed the Egyptian 



frontier from Libya, and after skir- 
mishes with light British forces, 
paused for three months at Sidi 
Barram. Here, on the eleventh of the 
following month Wavell, reinforced 
by Indians, Australians and New 
Zealanders, launched a surprise attack, 
which was spectacularly successful. 
Within two months he had driven the 
enemy out of Egypt and Cyrenaica, 
capturing 133,000 prisoners and much 
booty. Wavell had achieved this daring 
exploit with only 30,000 men and 
limited resources. 

In October Italy, using Albania as a 
base, had set upon Greece, but the 
Greeks fought with surprising 
stubbornness and threw them back. A 
month later Admiral Andrew 
Cunningham secured a notable victory 
over the Italian fleet in Taranto, 
carrier-borne torpedo Swordfish 



putting out of commission a major part 
of the force as it lay at anchor, and 
decisively swinging naval supremacy 
in the Mediterranean in Britain's 
favour. 

So far the war had gone well for us in 
the Middle East, but Germany now 
intervened actively and it became a 
long life-and-death struggle. First 
came her invasion of Greece and 
Yugoslavia in April, which were 
overrun after a brief but tenacious 
defence. Britain had a treaty with 
Greece and decided, though she could 
ill .afford it on military grounds, to go 
to her aid. To do so she drew upon 
forces from Wavell' s Western Desert 
army, leaving Africa dangerously 
exposed. At great cost to the Navy, the 
vanquished forces on the Greek 
mainland were evacuated to Crete. 
Here, in May, they were fallen upon 



by superior German airborne forces, 
and being deficient in anti-aircraft 
defences and perplexed by this novel 
form of parachutist attack, succumbed 
to the invader. 

My father gave the decision to 
intervene in Greece his fullest support. 
It was not only a question of honour, 
but an act of goodwill which would 
bear fruit in the future. He also had a 
deep .admiration and affection for the 
Greek people and made it his duty 
throughout the war to look after their 
interests. Much of his time in Cairo 
was usually taken up with their affairs. 
His affection for Greece had its roots 
in the classics, and their gallant stand 
in this war did much to enhance it. He 
also had close ties of friendship with 
the Greek Royal Family, who sought 
sanctuary in the Union during the war. 



At this time Germany had also landed 
her Afrika Korps, a highly armoured 
and mechanised force under the able 
direction of Rommel, at Tripoli, and 
this force moved swiftly eastwards to 
contact our Desert Army. With little 
effort they drove our depleted force 
backwards to Solium on the Egyptian 
frontier, where the line was stabilised. 
A garrison of Australians was left to 
hang on grimly to the isolated fortress 
of Tobruk on the coast. 

Things having gone wrong, a 
scapegoat was made of Wavell, who 
was succeeded by General Claude 
Auchinleck, while General Cunning- 
ham, on my father's recommendation 
and on the strength of his East African 
victory, was made Commander of the 
Western Desert Force. The South 
African First Division, together with 




General Smuts addressing troops at Mersa Matruh, Egypt - August 1941 



our Air Force and other units, had now 
moved up to join this hardy desert 
army, and after marshalling at 
Amariya near Alexandria., were sent 
up to Mersa Matruh, which was then a 
key defence point. Tobruk, bombed 
heavily and unceasingly from nearby 
airfields, and frequently heavily 
attacked by land, hung on grimly. 

In August, 1914, my father, 
accompanied by my mother, made a 
flying three-day visit to Cairo, my 
mother on Gifts and Comforts 
business and my father for troop 
inspections and discussions. At El 
Alamein he saw our Second South 
African Division busy training and 
preparing defences, and at Mersa 
Matruh, our First Division, under 
Major-General George Brink, were 
holding a forward position. Back in 
the British Embassy in Cairo, he sent 



off two long letters to Churchill and 
Roosevelt once more stressing the 
dangers of neglecting the vital Middle 
East theatre at the expense of a great 
and premature build-up for a cross- 
Channel assault on Europe. Roosevelt, 
and possibly British statesmen also, 
did not always take the African war 
sufficiently seriously. 

In November, 1941, Cunningham 
launched his big offensive to drive 
back the Germans and to relieve 
Tobruk. For many days the battle, 
fought like some great, mobile naval 
action on the limitless stony flatness of 
the desert, hung perilously in the 
balance, the German armour proving 
distinctly superior to the British. At 
Sidi Rezegh, on the 21st, the South 
African 5th Infantry Brigade, battling 
to connect up the last few miles with 
Tobruk, ran into a massed Panzer 



force and was wiped out. At the same 
time, not far away, the 1st South 
African Brigade, under the leadership 
of Brigadier Pienaar, was set upon by 
a similar tank force, but due to fine 
tactical handling and a masterly 
concentrated use of his artillery, 
Pienaar drove off the Germans. The 
significance of this action was that it 
was the first occasion on which it was 
demonstrated that well-handled guns 
could drive off mass tank assaults. 

Contact was eventually established 
with Tobruk and the garrison relieved. 
The Germans withdrew swiftly to El 
Agheila beyond Benghazi. Cunning- 
ham had meanwhile been superseded 
by General Ritchie. But we had badly 
overrun our long lines of com- 
munication and our forward armoured 
units were out of petrol. So when 
Rommel counter-attacked soon after, 



we were unable to hold the line and 
were driven back to a weak defensive 
position behind minefields, known as 
the Gazala Line. It ran for thirty miles 
from the Free-French-held strongpoint 
of Bir Hacheim to the coast, thirty 
miles west of Tobruk. Here there was 
a lull while both sides gathered 
strength. 

In May, 1942, my father flew up to 
Cairo for discussions and found time 
to inspect the forces as far afield as 
Tobruk. He slept at General Ritchie's 
Headquarters on a bay near Gambut 
which had been Rommel's tank repair 
workshops, and bathed pleasantly in 
the warm Mediterranean. 

Addressing his troops from the back of 
a truck under a palm tree on the dunes 
at Mersa Matruh on 22nd May he said: 
"... we must hold this Middle East 
block, and we will hold it. There is the 



possibility that it will become the base 
for a great offensive. I have come to 
the conclusion that we will see a great 
trial of strength. You may see it here 
in North Africa, which, I have always 
felt, is destined to become one of the 
great battlefields of this war." 

A young soldier who had seen my 
father pass in the desert wrote home to 
his parents: "Thank God South Africa 
has such a man and thank God I am a 
South African. His visit did more good 
in two seconds than fourteen months 
of army training. He can rest assured 
that if we are called upon to carry the 
Union Colours into the line, we will 
carry them right round the world and 
back again." 

By now both sides had amassed huge 
tank forces, the British having 
acquired, in addition to their Crusaders 
and Matildas, numerous American 



Grant and Stuart tanks. Rommel struck 
on May 26, and after a long and 
almost disastrous struggle broke 
through our wide minefields and drove 
the French out of Bir Hacheim. Once 
more German tanks proved superior 
both in fighting power and tactical 
handling, and soon our scarred but 
gallant army was falling back towards 
Alexandria. In the biggest tank battle 
of the war, near Knightsbridge to the 
south of Tobruk, we lost hundreds of 
tanks in a single over-impetuous 
action and our armoured force was 
virtually wiped out. Our Second South 
African Division, which had 
previously taken Bardia, Halfaya and 
Solium, was in Tobruk at the time, but 
it was common knowledge that we 
would not again commit the dangerous 
error of trying to hold this or any other 
isolated strongpoint. The minefields 



and other defences of Tobruk were 
therefore never properly prepared for a 
siege. Our tank forces, which had just 
been wiped out, were an integral part 
of the defences of the fortress. It was 
therefore obvious to all on the spot 
that Tobruk could never be held. The 
last-minute decision by the highest 
authority to hold it came as a complete 
surprise to us. This decision must 
either have come from Mr. Churchill 
or some very high body. The fact that 
my father, while opposed to the 
decision, never pressed the enquiry, 
may perhaps be significant. 

And so on 21st June Tobruk fell, and 
with it South Africa lost the best part 
of a first-rate division of 13,000 men. 
It was a grievous blow to the country 
and to my father. It gave the Opposi- 
tion endless grounds for criticism and 
it made many friendly households 



resentful. And above all, it cast a quite 
unwarranted stigma upon the South 
African soldier, who became the 
scapegoat of a strategic error. People 
were apt to make comparisons with the 
previous occasion when Tobruk was 
invested, forgetting that from the point 
of view of weight of attack it was like 
comparing chalk and cheese. There 
was some consolation in the fact that it 
was the Indian lines of the perimeter, 
not the South African, that had been 
pierced. 

In South Africa my father now 
launched a renewed effort to get 7,000 
recruits for our depleted army. The 
recruiting cry was "Avenge Tobruk", 
and the response was gratifying. 

In Egypt, the beaten Allied army, 
including the reconstituted but 
unbeaten First South African Division, 
were driven swiftly back by the 



famous 90th Light Division and 
mobile units from the Panzer 
divisions, until on 1st July they 
reached the defensible narrow thirty- 
mile waist between the impassable 
Qattara Depression and the sea. Here, 
at Alamein, our army turned and 
stood. It is a matter of pride to South 
Africans that the first three German 
attempts to pierce this thin line were 
made and repulsed on the South 
African sector. There were, in fact, 
during the first few critical days, little 
beyond Springboks and a few 
remnants of battered British units in 
the line. Axis flags were flown in 
expectation in Alexandria and Cairo. 

As the Allies were now close to the 
main base of Alexandria our build-up 
was brisk and the line soon stabilised 
itself. 



On June 22, 1941, Germany attacked 
Russia in the full belief that the 
campaign would be over in a few 
weeks. It was Hitler's most fatal 
decision. On December 8 came Pearl 
Harbour, a disastrous episode in 
American history. Three days later the 
British battleships Prince of Wales and 
Repulse were sent to the bottom by 
aircraft in the Gulf of Siam. Japan now 
ruled these seas. But Russia, in 
geographical size, in the inexhaustible 
masses of man-power and in the frigid 
cold of her winter, after initial setback, 
proved more than a match for the 
Germans. And so Russia, more than 
any other, slowly wore down the 
strength of Hitler's armies and gave us 
a breathing space. By the grace of God 
she fought on the same side as 
ourselves against a common foe, but 
she never really became an ally and 



was to be a great trial to Mr. Churchill 
and President Roosevelt. 

During these critical years in the 
Middle East my father never failed to 
stress the importance of this 
battleground. It held not only the 
secret of oil, but was also the wedge 
that prevented Germany and Japan 
from a grand link-up. In the long ding- 
dong and costly struggle here, there 
was always the danger that Britain and 
America might despair and 
concentrate on the invasion of Europe. 
That would have been a disaster. 

On the 30th September, 1941, at a 
special investiture by Governor- 
General, Sir Patrick Duncan, bestowed 
on my father, on behalf of the King, 
the rank of Field Marshal. The King's 
letter read: 



"My Dear Field Marshal, 

"I was hoping to present your field 
marshal's baton to you personally in 
England, but I well understand the 
reasons why you do not want to be 
away from South Africa for so long at 
the present time. 

"I am therefore asking the Governor- 
General as my personal representative 
to hand it to you on my behalf. 
"I would like you to know how proud 
my field marshals are to count you 
among their number. 
"With all good wishes believe me, 
Yours very sincerely, 
"George, R.I" 

In his personal appreciation of the 
honour bestowed on my father Sir 
Patrick said: "I can tell you from my 
own experience that there is no one 
inside or outside South Africa who has 




Field Marshal Smuts. A fine photographic 
study - October 1942. 

to make decisions, whether on military 
strategy or state policy, who would not 



seek and follow the advice and council 
of the General. He is a great rock in a 
weary world. On the one side General 
Smuts met flattery and approval, on 
the other the breezes and blasts of 
enmity. But he has been neither 
softened by the one, nor hardened by 
the other. He has pursued his own way 
... this friend of ours is a man of many 
parts and of great distinction, a 
prophet not without honour save in his 
own country... In spite of many 
adverse blasts there are few South 
Africans today who are not in the 
depths of their hearts proud to 
acknowledge General Smuts as a son 
of South Africa." 

My father treated this birthday present 
with characteristic modesty: "I trust 
my friends and those who have known 
me as General Smuts for the last forty 
years will not hesitate to use my old 



title. I am still General Smuts to my 
friends in South Africa, and I hope 
that the continuity of many years will 
not be broken by the new appointment. 
I am too old now to change names." 



71 : Offensive Phase 

A reshuffle took place in August, 
1942, in the desert. General Alexander 
took over command of the Middle 
East from General Auchinleck and 
General Montgomery succeeded 
General Ritchie. The Army of the Nile 
became known for the first time as the 
Eighth Army. These appointments 
were decided on personally by Mr. 
Churchill when he passed through 
Cairo after the Moscow Conference, in 
conjunction with what he called "the 
massive judgment of Field Marshal 
Smuts who flew from Cape Town to 
Cairo to meet me". 

In November, 1942, a vast armada of 
six hundred ships landed a British and 
an American army in French North 
Africa. These armies, under Generals 
Anderson and Clark, were to engage 
the Germans under von Arnim in the 



west, while Montgomery coped with 
Rommel in the east. By the personal 
intervention of Mr. Churchill with 
President Roosevelt, a large number of 
the new American Sherman tanks 
were diverted to the Eighth Army. 
Now for the first time these men could 
fight the German Mark III and IV 
Panzers on equal terms. 

In a somewhat prophetic broadcast 
after the Abyssinian campaign on 14th 
July, 1941, my father had said: "The 
definite turn of the tide will probably 
begin in North Africa and the 
Springboks will have their share in the 
crowning glory, just as they have had 
in the first successes of the war." He 
went on to define our partnership with 
Russia: "Nobody can say we are now 
in league with the Communists and are 
fighting the battles of Communism. 
More fitly can the neutralists and the 



fence sitters be charged with fighting 
the battle of Nazism. If Hitler in his 
insane megalomania has driven Russia 
to fight in self-defence, we bless her 
arms and wish her all success, without 
for a moment identifying ourselves 
with her Communistic creed. Hitler 
has made Russia his enemy and not us 
friendly to her creed." Mr. Churchill 
quoted, and identified himself with, 
this latter part of the speech in the 
British House of Commons the 
following day. 

The Nationalists, after the advent of 
Russia into the war, switched to an 
anti-Communist type of propaganda 
and never failed to attack my father for 
fighting on the side of the Bolsheviks. 
But the Nationalists were throughout 
fighting a losing battle, for people's 
hearts were not in doctrines, but in the 
war. And so more and more support in 



the country swung to my father's side, 
and in by-elections we were invariably 
successful. 

The advent of Japan into the war did 
not strike terror into the hearts of the 
Nationalists, who failed to look 
beyond their political noses. Rather 
did they rejoice in the mistaken belief 
that the inevitable withholding of aid 
from America might hasten the end of 
Britain. Now we had not only to cope 
with the active U-boat menace round 
our coasts, but had to safeguard our 
shores against a possible invader. The 
fall of France had led briskly to the 
establishment of the pro-Nazi Vichy 
government of Petain. Madagascar, 
lying Close to our shores, was French. 
There was a distinct possibility that it 
might be used as a U-boat refuge, or 
worse still, as a stepping stone for an 
invader. So my father sent a South 



African brigade to accompany the 
British landing force which was 
secretly despatched to the island. It 
was a smooth and swift conquest, but 
my father was severely attacked in 
Parliament for sending South African 
troops outside the country in 
contravention of their agreement. But 
after prolonged debate his explanation 
that Madagascar was more or less 
Africa, and that preparations against 
possible Japanese invasion were 
imperative, carried the day. 

In October, 1942, my father paid his 
first wartime visit to Britain. After 
conferences in Cairo he boarded Mr. 
Churchill's semi-converted Liberator 
aircraft "Commando" and winged his 
way in the night deep inland across 
Rommel's territory to Gibraltar 2,500 
miles away. Next night they took off 
again for Britain, flying far out west to 



sea as a security measure against 
marauding German aircraft. 

The purpose of the visit was, as he 
said, "the acceleration of the plans of 
high strategy in the general conduct of 
the war". To reporters he said: "More 
and more Africa is emerging as a 
dominant feature in our war strategy, 
on which the future outcome of the 
war will largely depend. I have 
therefore continued to emphasise to 
the best of my ability the importance 
of the African theatres of war. The 
central and vital position they occupy 
in our world strategy is becoming 
plainer every day... The purpose of 
this visit was also for discussions on 
general Allied war strategy and more 
specifically on Eisenhower's big 
North African landing just then being 
planned. His repeated stressing of the 
importance of the Middle East theatre 



was no idle obsession with him. It was 
a most vital necessity, for already eyes 
were turning across the Channel. The 
Americans, especially, were insistent 
that no time should be lost in getting 
going on the assault on Europe. It was 
a hopelessly premature idea but they 
seemed greatly set on it. It worried Mr. 
Churchill and my father considerably. 

Another aspect of the war which was 
to. worry these two leaders was that 
there was a tendency for Americans to 
want to send too much to the Far East. 
They were not interested so much in 
the war against Hitler as against 
Nippon. It was difficult to get them to 
see that Europe must come first in a 
grand strategy. We should do little 
more in the East than to ensure the 
safety of Australia and New Zealand. 
This Far-East complex became 
especially noticeable later on when 



assault craft were required for the 
landings in Normandy, and in the 
Burma campaign, when badly needed 
airlift was all employed across the 
Hump to China. These matters were 
settled as much by private cable 
between President Roosevelt and Mr. 
Churchill as by the Allied War 
Council. In these matters Mr. 
Churchill put considerable stock in the 
support he received from my father. 

My father's sojourn in England was a 
strenuous one. Twice daily he attended 
meetings of the War Cabinet, a 
distinction extended him alone, of all 
Dominion ministers, whenever he was 
in London. He also attended meetings 
of the Defence Committee, the Privy 
Council and the Pacific War Council. 
Together with Mr. Churchill, he 
addressed a secret meeting with 3,000 
coal miners in Westminster, to exhort 



them to greater efforts of production. 
He also had an audience with Queen 
Wilhelmina and broadcast a message 
in Dutch to the Netherlands and 
Belgium. In addition he had audiences 
with the King and kings of Yugoslavia 
and Greece, foreign emigre prime 
ministers, ambassadors and numerous 
people of importance. He found time 
to pay Mr. Lloyd George a visit at 
Churt and to look in at Christ's 
College, Cambridge. 

And on his journey back he stopped at 
Gibraltar in mid-November for 
discussions with Admiral Cunningham 
and others. 

But to the public this visit will be 
remembered more for one solitary 
speech he made than for all the other 
hard work. For my father had arrived 
in England at a "stern and sombre 
moment". The occasion was an 



invitation to address the combined 
Houses of Lords and Commons on 
21st October, a distinction never pre- 
viously accorded a Dominion states- 
man. As my father entered, the 
thousand members that crowded the 
hall rose to their feet and cheered him 
for fully two minutes. It was an 
unprecedented ovation from one of the 
most select audiences in the world. 
The occasion had been much 
publicised, and it was estimated by the 
British Broadcasting Corporation that 
an audience of fully fifteen millions 
was listening-in in Britain alone. 

Lloyd George introduced my father. 
"No one in calmness or discernment 
exceeds him in this age," he said with 
deep emotion. Britain had been 
through much, and a feeling of 
weariness and depression was creeping 
in. The object of my father's speech, 



which came to be known as "The 
Offensive Phase", was to awaken the 
people and to stir up a new mood of 
hope and vigour. 

He spoke first of the "distinguished 
leadership" of Lloyd George and of 
Winston Churchill, and of their 
"imperishable service". He then went 
on: 

I have spoken of the two great actors, 
the two greatest actors, in the drama, 
the continuing drama of our age. I call 
this a continuing drama because I view 
this war as a continuation of the last 
war, and the whole as perhaps another 
Thirty Years' War, which began in 
1914, was interrupted by an armistice 
in 1918, improperly called a peace, 
was resumed with greater ferocity in 
1939, and may continue (who knows?) 
till 1944... 



I have referred to two great actors in 
this drama of our age. There is a third 
and greater actor to be mentioned. I 
refer to the British people and the 
spirit that animates them and the 
young nations around them in the 
British Commonwealth of Nations. 

One occasionally hears idle words 
about the decay of this country, about 
the approaching break-up of the great 
world group we form. What folly and 
ignorance, what misreading of the real 
signs of the times! In some quarters 
what wishful thinking! ... 

... And now I have come back to a 
country over which the fury of war has 
swept, a country whose people have 
had to face in their grimmest mood the 
most terrible onslaught in its history. 

Many of its ancient monuments are 
damaged or gone for ever. The blitz 



has passed over cities, ports, churches, 
temples, humble homes and palaces, 
Houses of Parliament and Law Courts. 
Irreplaceable treasures of one thousand 
years of almost uninterrupted progress 
and culture and peaceful civilisation 
have disappeared for ever. 

War, the horror people still call war, 
but in its modern scientific form 
something very different from what 
passed under that name before, war 
has come to this favoured land and 
attempted its worst. Much has gone 
which is lost for ever. 

But one thing is not lost - one thing, 
the most precious of all, remains and 
has rather increased. For what will it 
profit a nation if it wins the world and 
loses its soul? The soul remains. Glory 
has not departed from this land... 



Look at the wonderful resurgence of 
the brave little nations of Western 
Europe, whom no adversity, no defeat, 
dangers or chains can hold down... 

And looking farther afield, watch the 
young nations of the British 
Commonwealth at the job. Last and 
greatest of all, see America in her 
invincible might under one of the 
greatest of leaders, marching to the 
flaming ramparts of the world in East 
and West. 

And shall we forget France, not dead, 
but like Lazarus only sleeping, and 
waiting for the dawn to shake off the 
torpor which has temporarily 
overcome her historic genius? ... 

The light of freedom which has guided 
our slow and faltering advance 
through the ages still shines in the 
night which has overtaken us. The 



glory is still with us, and we shall 
follow it with all our strength and 
devotion to the new dawn which 
surely awaits our race. 

But a rough and terrible passage lies 
before us, and it will call for all our 
combined resources, all our 
concentrated will and effort, all our 
highest leadership to carry us to our 
goal. There is no place for compla- 
cency or wishful thinking... 

I, therefore, pass on to the war 
situation. For the first three years of 
the war our role had necessarily to be a 
defensive one... 

These are the steps that have marked 
our climb out of the abyss into which 
the fall of France had all but plunged 
us: 

First, the defeat of the German 
Luftwaffe over London. 



Second, the treacherous attack of 
Germany on Russia, in spite of the 
peace treaty between them.. 

Third, Pearl Harbour and its sudden 
and timely effect in carrying America 
100 per cent into the war while 
Admiral Nomura and Mr. Cordell Hull 
were talking peace at the conference 
table... 

We have now reached the fourth year 
of this war, and the defence phase has 
now ended. The stage is set for the 
last, the offensive phase. Let me set 
your minds at rest at once, I am not 
going to discuss the future offensive 
strategy of the war. 

The amateur strategists can do that 
with greater freedom and less 
responsibility in the Press. I only wish 
to emphasise that one phase has ended 
and another must now begin... 



... We are approaching the point when 
both on the war fronts and on the 
home fronts in enemy countries the 
situation is ripening for far-reaching 
developments... 

Once the time has come to take the 
offensive and to strike while the iron is 
hot it would be folly to delay, to over- 
prepare, and perhaps miss our 
opportunity. Nor are we likely to do 
so-of that I feel satisfied... 

Hitler has tried to kill this spirit and to 
substitute for it some ersatz thing, 
something which is really its negation. 
He has instilled into German youth a 
new racial fanaticism. 

He has sought strength in the ancient 
discarded forest gods of the Teuton. 
His faith is a reversion to the pagan 
past and a denial of the spiritual forces 
which have carried us forward in the 



Christian advance which constitutes 
the essence of European civilisation... 

I therefore come to the question: What 
is the sort of world which we envisage 
as our objective after the war? What 
sort of social and international order 
are we aiming at? These are very 
important questions, deserving of our 
most careful attention if we mean not 
only to win the war but also the peace. 

Our ideas on these matters twenty-two 
years ago were much too vague and 
crude, and at the same time much too 
ambitions, with the result that when 
they came to be tested by hard 
experience they proved wanting, and 
their failure helped to contribute to the 
present conflict. With that experience 
before us we ought this time to 
hammer out something more clear, 
definite and practical... 



We do not want a mere League, but 
something more definite and organic, 
even if to begin with more limited and 
less ambitious than the League. "The 
United Nations" is itself a fruitful 
conception, and on the basis of that 
conception practical machinery for the 
functioning of an international order 
could be explored... 

With honesty and sincerity on our part 
it is possible to make basic reforms 
both for national and international life 
which will give mankind a new chance 
of survival and of progress. 

Let this programme, by no means too 
ambitious, be our task, and let us now 
already, even in the midst of war, 
begin to prepare for it. And may 
Heaven's Blessing rest on our work in 
War and in Peace. 



72 : El Alamein 

People had not long to wait for the 
offensive phase to commence. 
Montgomery, having completed his 
preparations, at dawn on 23rd October 
unleashed his "great thunderbolt of an 
assault", as Mr. Churchill described it, 
on the German lines at Alamein. Five 
hundred guns, standing twenty-three 
yards apart along a six-mile front, 
brought down a concentrated barrage 
on enemy positions and at the same 
time infantry and sappers surged 
forward to clear a way through the 
five-mile deep enemy minefield belt. 
Though stubbornly contested, all the 
first objectives were attained. 
Thereafter the progress was slow for 
ten days, but then our armour broke 
through and in a ten-hour tank battle at 
El Aqqaqir the opposing armour was 
heavily defeated, and the big pursuit 



was on. Seventy-three thousand priso- 
ners were taken of whom eight 
thousand were Germans. They were 
parched and bewildered. In addition 
the Axis had lost a thousand guns and 
five hundred tanks. 

It was a great victory. 

But fortune favoured Rommel, for in 
the beginning of November torrential 
rains turned the desert into a quagmire, 
bogging down our pursuit armour. 
Had it not been for this, the enemy 
would undoubtedly have been rounded 
up before reaching the Egyptian 
border. 

Rommel got away, and reinforced, 
was to fight many an additional battle. 
The biggest of these was at the Mareth 
Line in Tunisia. This happened just as 
German armour was teaching the 
inexperienced Americans a salutary 



lesson at Kasserine and Had. Having 
learned the hard way that it was men 
and sound tactics and not just Sherman 
tanks that won battles, the Americans 
knuckled down and were to turn into 
formidable fighters. 

Eventually our forces converged on 
Tunis and Bizerta, and having forced 
the strong Enfidaville hill positions, 
captured the two big towns and 
cornered von Arnim on the Cape Bon 
peninsula, where after unceasing 
bombing and attack, he was forced to 
capitulate on 13th May, 1943. General 
Alexander cabled to Mr: Churchill: "It 
is my duty to report that the Tunisian 
campaign is over. All enemy 
resistance is ended. We are masters of 
North Africa." 

The quantities of war materials 
captured were enormous, including 
over 1,000 guns, 250 tanks and 520 



aeroplanes, plus tremendous stores of 
ammunition and Supplies. 291,000 
prisoners were taken and enemy dead 
were estimated at 50,000, making a 
total of 341,000. This was well in 
excess of the numbers captured by 
Russia at Stalingrad. In all, North 
Africa had cost the Axis 600,000 men: 
Germany lost 250,000, including those 
killed in battle, severely wounded or 
lost at sea. Italy lost 350,000, and to 
this figure must be added the 300,000 
she lost previously in East Africa (of 
whom many, however, were natives). 

In Africa we had seen hard and 
strained times. Upon the collapse of 
France there had loomed large the 
question of the French fleet. There had 
been naval actions against French 
units at Dakar, Casablanca and 
Toulon. General Giraud, whom we 
had backed so heavily in our North 



African Free French plans, had proved 
a grave disappointment and we had 
perforce to turn to the Vichyite 
Admiral Darlan. An assassin soon put 
an end to him. In Britain there was 
General de Gaulle, tank expert, and 
reincarnation of Joan of Arc, a 
difficult man with a difficult mission. 

Now all that was of the past, and we 
rejoiced in the conclusion of a long 
and hard phase of the war. From now 
on the tempo of events was steadily 
increased. For the first time, there was 
a definite smell of ultimate victory in 
the air. It prompted President 
Roosevelt at the Casablanca 
Conference in January, 1943, to 
demand "unconditional surrender". 

Even Josef Stalin was impressed. 

The Parliamentary session opened at 
Cape Town on 16th January, 1943. 



The general temper of the people had 
improved steadily. In Parliament my 
father's majority had swelled, through 
by-elections and resignations from 
anti-war groups, to twenty. With the 
close of the Session the present five- 
year term of Parliament expired. The 
time seemed propitious, and so my 
father decided on a General Election. 
This took place on the 7th of July, 
special arrangements having been 
made to enable all soldiers to vote. 

The result was that 107 pro-war 
members were returned against 43 of 
the anti-war Nationalists, a resounding 
majority of 64. Never has a Govern- 
ment policy been more clearly 
endorsed or a South African Premier 
had better support. 



My father now introduced some slight 
changes in his Cabinet: a Minister of 
Economic Development superseded 
the Minister of Commerce and 
Industries; the Ministry of Railways 
and Harbours was broadened into a 
Ministry of Transport; and a new 
Minister of Welfare and Demobili- 
sation was appointed to cope with 
social security problems. The general 
criticism of this Cabinet, like all 
previous ones, was that it contained 
too much age and dead-wood. My 
father recognised this weakness, but 
seemed powerless to change it, for the 
provinces liked being represented by 
their senior men, who were, inevitably, 
their old stalwarts. An additional 
weakness was that my father so 
overshadowed his ministers that the 
Cabinet became positively lop-sided. 
It was a dictatorship every bit as much 



as Mr. Churchill's, and it worked just 
as well. 

Emphasis in this new Government was 
on going full-steam ahead with the war 
and industrial effort, and at the same 
tine paving the way for the problems 
of demobilisation after the war. 
General Brink was appointed as 
Director of Demobilisation to assist 
his Minister, Mr. Lawrence. 

Two committees were established, a 
National Supplies Council, and a 
Cabinet Committee on Reconstruction, 
with my father as chairman. 

The years that followed were ones of 
unprecedented activity and prosperity. 
It was truly a Golden Age. Never 
before had so much been accom- 
plished in this country. Never before 
had things run so smoothly. Nor had 
our prestige and honour in the world 



abroad ever stood higher. The gold though we had shaken off our legacy 

mines were going at full blast turning of the past, 

out that precious commodity so 
urgently needed for payments in India 
and elsewhere. Everywhere new 
factories had sprung up to turn out the 
articles we had previously imported. 
Large concerns were turning out the 
heavier implements of war. In Parlia- 
ment the Opposition seemed swamped 
and stunned. Subversive activities, 
under stricter control, were nervous 
and quiet. Farming was booming and 
there were no surpluses. Even our 
normally erratic climate was kind. In 
our ports there was great activity and 
hundreds of thousands of soldiers in 
transit enjoyed our hospitality. In the 
north our armies fraternised happily 
with those of the rest of the world. It 
was an age of broadmindedness and 
tolerance. For a while it looked as 



73 : Second Wartime Visit To 
England 

About the middle of September, 
1943, after the conclusion of the North 
African campaign, I was attached 
temporarily to my father as Aide on 
his second wartime visit to Britain. 
These duties I always found exacting. 
On the 27th my father arrived in Cairo, 
spending some days in discussions on 
war and diplomacy, reviewing his 6th 
Armoured Division in training at 
Khatatba, and going to Alexandria for 
discussions with Admiral John 
Cunningham, who took him for a trip 
round the outer harbour to see units of 
the newly-surrendered Italian battle 
fleet. 

At Khatatba, while taking the salute as 
his giant men marched past, eighteen 
abreast, my father was so overcome 
with pride at their size and bearing that 



he could not refrain from exclaiming 
loudly to General Alan Brooke, Chief 
of the Imperial General Staff, who was 
sitting some way off to his left: 
"Brookie, look - look at those fine 
boys!" 

Italy, tired, well-beaten and dispirited, 
had capitulated on the 8th. Six weeks 
earlier Mussolini had resigned, but had 
been kidnapped by German 
paratroopers before he could come 
across to the Allies. 

On 1st October my father flew out 
west along the Mediterranean shores 
towards Tunis, passing over the old 
desert battlefields, now forsaken and 
almost obliterated by the shifting 
sands, across orderly but deserted 
Italian "Ente" settlements and the 
green of Cyrenaica, touching down at 
Castel Benito, Tripoli, for lunch. Then 
on again, low across the ancient 



Roman ruins at Sabratha and El Djem, 
remnants of days when this part of 
Africa was still well-watered and the 
great granary of Rome. At Tunis he 
was the guest of General Eisenhower 
in his villa on the hill at Sidi Bu Said, 
above the plains of ancient Carthage. 
Here my father met General 
Eisenhower for the first time, forming 
a favourable impression of this big, 
bluff, friendly American. The next day 
was spent in conferences with 
Eisenhower; Alexander and Tedder, 
the latter Commander of the Desert 
Air Forces and greatest wartime expert 
on air-army co-operation. These three 
were to prove a great and winning 
team in the battles for Italy and Europe 
that were to follow. Eisenhower was to 
shine as the great peace-maker 
between English and Americans, and a 
wonderful soother of ruffled feelings. 



Alexander was considered by many 
the most brilliant soldier of the war. 

From Tunis my father made a rapid 
inspection of Sicily, flying round this 
rugged volcanic island, dominated by 
Mount Etna; past Messina, with a view 
across the two-mile wide straits to the 
Italian mainland, touching down at 
Gerbini to inspect South African Air 
Force personnel. Then he left for 
Malta, battered survivor of 3,000 Axis 
bomber sorties, where he lunched with 
the Governor, Lord Gort. 

On the way across the Mediterranean 
from here to Algiers our Lodestar 
developed trouble in one engine and a 
great stream of black oil poured out 
across the wing, causing us to look 
apprehensively at the white wind- 
whipped sea below. Though the 
engine never faltered, we felt it wisest 
to set course back to Tinus again. Next 



morning the trip to Algiers was 
completed in General Spaatz's private 
Dakota, and in this dazzling city on a 
broad crescent of a bay, we delayed till 
3 p.m., when we took off in Mr. 
Churchill's new four-engined Avro 
York "Ascalon", specifically sent to 
collect my father. Two hours later we 
turned through the narrow Straits of 
Gibraltar and touched down a little 
later on an American airstrip at Rabat. 

Here we tarried till early the next 
morning, when we took off along a 
dim flare-path for England. At 8.15 I 
saw some baloons sticking through the 
clouds and enquired of the navigator 
whether we were passing over a 
convoy. "No," he said, "that is 
Exeter." Soon we broke cloud, and 
there, stretched before me, I saw for 
the first time the grey villages, the 
green countryside and the innumerable 



hedgerows which go to make up the 
solid soil of England. At Northolt, 
outside London, we touched down, 
where a welcoming crowd awaited my 
father, and soon we were speeding to 
the Hyde Park Hotel, where my father 
usually stayed. 

The occasion was a meeting of 
Commonwealth Prime Ministers, but 
this was only to form a minor portion 
of my father's business. Britain was 
now in her fifth year of war. Though 
the after-taste of the air blitz had not 
completely gone, a second minor blitz 
was to start during the visit, and for 
those in the know, there was the 
prospect of the use at any moment of 
new and terrible secret long-range 
weapons by the Germans against Eng- 
land, and more especially London. 

Since the start of the war Britain's air 
force had grown out of all recognition 



and Air Chief Marshal Leigh 
Mallory's Tactical Air Force now 
totalled about 5,000 first-line 
machines. Fighter Command, which 
formed part of it, consisted of 86 
squadrons of day fighters and an 
additional 20 of night fighters, in all 
about 2,000 machines. Though our old 
Mark IV Spitfires were inferior in 
performance to the newer German 
Messerschmitts and Focke Wulfs, the 
ones currently in production were 
vastiy superior. 

Equally notable strides had been made 
in Bomber Command, where Air 
Chief Marshal Harris was rapidly 
building up a formidable fleet of heavy 
strategic bombers of the Halifax and 
Lancaster type. "Bomber" Harris, a 
Rhodesian by birth, and once an infan- 
try man under General Botha and my 
father in South-West Africa, had been 



made to walk such prodigious 
distances in the blazing sun in this 
campaign, that he swore he would 
never walk a yard again if he could 
help it. So he joined the Royal Flying 
Corps., where he became a famous 
night-fighter pilot over London. A 
man of singular mind and 
determination, he made it his task to 
build for Britain a great bomber fleet, 
for more than any other man he had 
unlimited faith in this type of warfare. 
To these ideas of Harris; as much as to 
any other, we owe our victory in the 
war. 

At No. 10 Downing Street and at 
Chequers, Britain's equivalent of 
Groote Schuur, I was privileged for 
the first time to see the two great men 
of the Empire, Mr. Churchill and my 
father, together. Between these two 
old friends there existed a warmth of 



feeling and mutual admiration that was 
touching to behold. In public it was 
"Prime Minister" and "Field Marshal", 
but otherwise it was simply "Winston" 
and "Jan". Mr. Churchill had in him 
more than the average gift of kindness 
and warmth of feeling, to which the 
inherent friendliness of my father was 
quick to respond. In each other's 
company they seemed to cast the cares 
of the world from their shoulders and 
to assume a new animation. They were 
a tonic to each other. 

During the first week-end at Chequers 
I jotted down in my note-book: "Mr. 
Churchill is very keen that the Oubaas 
should spend some months in 
England, especially as Anthony Eden 
will be away in Russia, and he himself 
would soon be off to a Three Power 
Conference (Teheran) as well. He 
wants the Oubaas to take over his job 



while he is away and says that the 
British people will ask for nothing 
better than this..." 

I was to find Mr. Churchill a dynamo 
of mental action and resolution. This 
man was no mere figure-head. He 
ruled his Cabinet and military chiefs 
with a rod of iron and stern peremp- 
toriness. His personal physician had 
no more influence over him than his 
valet Sawyers. My father was the only 
person he listened to with respect. It 
was incongruous, but lucky, that Mr. 
Churchill in a democracy was allowed 
powers no less than those of the 
Dictators. His judgment was seldom at 
fault. 

Once again my father regularly 
attended meetings of the War Cabinet, 
which at the time was examining 
closely disturbing reports of terrible 
new secret German weapons. As much 



forced foreign labour was being 
utilised on these projects, our intelli- 
gence was unusually complete and this 
was further substantiated by constant 
aerial reconnaissance. It appears that 
various types of weapons were being 
developed at Peenemunde and Watten, 
including huge rockets, pilotless 
aircraft and glider-bombs. The War 
Cabinet was taking the threat very 
seriously, for it seemed not impossible 
that the Germans might drop 2,500 to 
10,000 tons of explosives on Britain 
during November and December. The 
Germans were boasting openly that 
these "retribution" weapons would 
produce a million casualties in London 
during the first week. Mr. Churchill's 
technical adviser, Lord Cherwell, put 
the figure more modestly at 90,000 per 
month. Launching platforms for these 
devilish devices were going up along 



the Dieppe coast and on the Cherbourg 
Peninsula, but the public of Britain 
were luckily ignorant of all this. 

Perhaps it was the fear of these 
weapons, perhaps fear of weariness 
and possible stalemate, that caused my 
father to stress the need for hurry in 
his speech on 19th October in the old 
blitzed Guildhall. Fifteen hundred 
illustrious people crowded the hall, 
and an additional three thousand 
listened in to loud-speaker extensions 
outside. Here are some of the salient 
passages from this memorable speech: 

... The British people are united to a 
man behind the greatest leader they 
have ever had - the leader of whom, it 
is now amusing to recall, a gentleman 
prominent in your public life told me 
only a couple of years before this war 
that he had no party, no followers, and 
no hope of future leadership! Such are 



the ironies of history! I reminded my 
informant that in the later stages of the 
last war I had heard from a well- 
known diplomat exactly the same 
statement about Clemenceau, the 
Tiger, and that within a month 
thereafter he was Prime Minister of 
France and led his own country to 
final victory in the war. 

You have found a greater man than 
Clemenceau, and he will lead you to a 
more conclusive and fruitful victory 
than that of the last war... Another 
special reason which makes me feel 
happier today is the immense change 
which has come over the scene since 
my visit a year ago. I spoke then in a 
somewhat optimistic frame of mind. I 
said the defensive phase of the war 
was over for us, and we were passing 
over to the offensive which would lead 
to final victory... 



Then, at two points of this vast war 
front, things happened which 
transformed the whole course of the 
war and, perhaps, of history. The 
battles of Stalingrad and El Alamein 
marked the real turning points in this 
war and will rank in history with the 
other decisive battles of the world... 

... The Russian contribution to the war 
is immense and, indeed, has surpassed 
anything which even the most 
sanguine had expected of her. We are 
under no temptation to detract from 
the credit which is hers - which justly 
is hers... 

Our admiration for all this is 
unbounded, but our high sense of 
Russia's service should not make us 
depreciate our own contribution and 
make us think less of it in comparison. 
From El Alamein onwards, we of the 
British Commonwealth have done 



things on the battlefronts which will 
stand comparison with the 
contributions of any of the Allies... 

To this must be added our continuous 
bombing campaign against the enemy 
industrial centres and communications 
both in Germany and the occupied 
territories. Vast destruction has been 
wrought to the enemy resources and 
war effort... 

... It may be no exaggeration to say 
that our air bombing offensive against 
enemy centres has had, and is having 
the dimensions and effects of a large- 
scale additional front... 

We are now in the autumn of 1941... 
We have climbed out of the depths and 
moved far forward... And by the 
coming winter we shall have closed in 
upon Hitler's central fortress of 
Europe and be making our dispositions 



for the grand assault by ou